WALTON, Ky. — A bank teller in Kentucky has filed suit against her former employer after she claimed that she was fired for telling bank patrons to ‘have a blessed day.’
Polly Neace says that she used the phrase on the job for two years, but in 2011, she received a Code of Ethics violation notice from U.S. Bank in Walton, asserting that several customers had lodged a complaint. Neace says that she had never personally heard anyone complain about her well-wishes.
“I say ‘Have a blessed day’ all of the time,” she told local television station Fox 19. “I don’t think there’s any better kind of day you can have than a blessed day.”
The warning Neace received also claimed that the teller had asked a customer, “Did you take the Lord’s name in vain?” and that she urged the individual to find salvation in Christ. Neace denies the allegation.
“While you are entitled to your beliefs and we support that, you may not proselytize those beliefs in the workplace,” the written warning read. “Effective immediately, you will no longer discuss the subject of faith or religion with customers or co-workers. Religious items must be removed from the teller line where [they] can be seen by customers.”
Neace told reporters that the following year she was again reprimanded for saying “God bless you” to a client.
“A customer went through the drive thru and I waited on them,” she explained. She said, ‘God bless you.’ I said, ‘Thank you. God bless you, too.”
On several occasions, the teller complained to her employer as she believed that she was being targeted for her faith. Shortly after the 2o12 incident, in expressing concern about another matter, she commented that she “might as well go ahead and tell customers [to] have a blessed day.” She was fired the following day.
Neace is now suing U.S. Bank for religious discrimination.
“The public policy of the Common Law of Kentucky … prohibits an employer from discriminating against a person on the basis of his or her religion and, further, protects the employee from retaliation for complaining about discrimination on the basis of his or her religion,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants violated the public policy of Kentucky in wrongfully discharging plaintiff on the basis of her religious beliefs and/or retaliation against plaintiff for her complaints about religious discrimination.”
Without providing specifics, U.S. Bank is rebuffing Neace’s legal action, stating that her firing was justified due to information that has not yet been disclosed.
“At U.S. Bank, we hold our employees to high ethical standards when interacting with customers and co-workers, and take violations of these standards seriously,” it wrote in a recent statement. “While we cannot comment provide comment on pending litigation, we believe that this lawsuit is without merit and believe the facts presented in future legal proceedings will justify our actions.”
Neace had worked at the bank for 24 years, and received a positive performance evaluation from her manager in the same year that she was first reprimanded following the alleged public complaints.
Photo: Fox 19