WALTON, Ky. (CNN) – You hear it often these days — “have a blessed day.” A Kentucky woman claims saying that phrase to customers got her fired from her bank teller job.
Polly Neace doesn’t just go to church on Sundays. She says she lives her beliefs every day. So, Monday through Friday, when she was working as a teller at U.S. Bank in Walton, Kentucky, she would say the same thing to every bank customer she met.
I say ‘Have a blessed day’ all of the time. All of the time,” said Neace. “I don’t feel there’s any better kind of day you can have than a blessed day.
“What was customers’ reaction when you would say that?” Fox 19 asked her. “They would say thank you very much,” Neace replied.
However, Neace received a code of ethics violation in March of 2011. It claims that in addition to several customers complaining about her telling them to ‘Have a blessed day,’ Neace also asked a customer quote “Did you just take the Lord’s name in vain?” and then proceeded to talk to him about salvation.
Neace claims customers never complained. However, Fox19 legal analyst Mike Allen believes a legal line may have been crossed.
“Where you actually go and take a step further and actually perhaps try to convert or persuade someone to your religious beliefs that’s where an employer can step in and take action,” said Allen.
That action was in writing. U.S. Bank told Neace “effective immediately you will no longer discuss the subject of faith or religion with customers and co-workers alike.”
“I was upset with the fact they were stifling me and not allowing me to act on my beliefs,” said Neace.
Neace admits she was reprimanded again a few months later. A customer went through the drive thru and Neace waited on the person.
“She said ‘God bless you. I said ‘Thank you. God bless you, too,’” Neace explained.
And then, after complaining about a situation at the bank… Neace claims she jokingly told a manager she might as well go back to saying have a blessed day… and be fired.
The next day… she was.
“I felt very persecuted,” Neace said.
She later filed a lawsuit against U.S. Bank, claiming she was “discriminated against for exercising her religious freedoms.”
“It’s a real interesting lawsuit and you are starting to see more litigation in this area with respect to what an employer has to do to accommodate employee’s religious beliefs,” said legal analyst Allen.
As to what the court believes, Neace says she will take her case concerning her beliefs as far as she can.
“I can’t back down from this. It’s the principle behind everything,” she said.
When asked for comment, U.S. Bank provided a statement saying in part… “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.”
And while U.S. Bank officials say they do not comment on pending litigation, they do say they feel the lawsuit is without merit.