Suit: Toll-taker told not to say 'God bless you'



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PERTH AMBOY, N.J. (AP) — A former Garden State Parkway toll collector has filed a civil rights lawsuit, saying a supervisor told her to stop saying "God bless you" to motorists.

Cynthia Fernandez said her First Amendment rights were violated when she was told to stop saying the phrase as drivers pulled away.

Fernandez told News 12 New Jersey (http://bit.ly/1vx57pv ) that she feels like she's taking a stand for God.

The mother of three from Perth Amboy quit, in part, because she said her employer silenced her and she wanted a set work schedule.

"By saying 'God bless you,' she's expressing herself as a Christian," her lawyer, Greg Noble, said. "And if an employer is going to restrain her ability to express herself in that way, not say something based on her religious belief, not disrupting the workplace, that's our concern."

New Jersey Turnpike Authority spokesman Tom Feeney would not comment on the lawsuit, but he said Fernandez resigned because she couldn't get steady hours.

"She said nothing to the area manager about the alleged incident involving the plaza supervisor, and she didn't mention it in her resignation letter," Feeney said.

Fernandez is seeking back pay with benefits and a cash settlement from the authority.

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Information from: News 12, http://www.news12.com

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Associated Press

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