A Christian teacher from Augusta, Maine, had thought that she was having a private conversation with a co-worker until she received a notice from the school to cease or else she could lose her job. The teacher was left absolutely appalled by the school’s action and has since decided to fight back over the innocent 5-word phrase that had her in hot water.
Toni Richardson works as an education technician at Cony High School. However, never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that she’d be threatened with losing her job for saying a simple, common phrase to her struggling co-worker, telling them that “I will pray for you.”
After being reprimanded for the remark, Richardson now feels like she is being disciplined illegally for telling a co-worker that she would pray for them. Clearly, it’s a common phrase that every Christian uses when they feel someone is in need of help, and who better to call on than God?
Unfortunately, when the school got word of what happened, they decided to send out a “coaching memorandum,” instructing “her not to discuss her Christian faith with co-workers at all and not to tell people on school property that she will pray for them or that they are in her prayers” or else she “will face discipline or dismissal in the future,” according to BDN Maine.
“I was shocked that my employer punished me for privately telling a coworker, ‘I will pray for you,’” Richardson explained. “I am afraid that I will lose my job if someone hears me privately discussing my faith with a coworker.” As a result of what was happening to her, Richardson contacted First Liberty Institute, one of America’s most prominent religious liberty law firms for some help.
“No one should be threatened with losing their job for privately telling a coworker that they are going to pray for them,” she recalled a First Liberty attorney explaining to her, according to Fox News. “School employees are not required to hide their faith from each other while campus.” Now, along with Eaton Peabody law firm, they have filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the school, alleging religious discrimination and retaliation.
When the school department learned of Richardson’s complaint, they said that they were “very surprised and extremely disappointed.” However, what they fail to understand is that they are censoring the content of her speech and humiliated her over her personal beliefs.
“What August Public Schools did by punishing Toni for discussing her faith in a private conversation with a coworker is unconscionable,” attorney Timothy Woodcock said. “The law is clear: employers cannot discriminate against employees who privately discuss their faith while at work.”
Christians should not have to worry about losing their livelihood for merely trying to privately console a co-worker. Clearly, she’s made the right move against the school after they decided to put her job on the line over a common Christian phrase we’ve all heard before. Considering the law firm knows exactly what they’re talking about, I think it’s safe to say that the school administrators may now be in need of some prayer, but it’s doubtful that they will welcome or receive it.