Woman claims she was fired over saying “Have a blessed day”

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.

Trademark and Copyright 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


Filed in: News

35 comments

  • Brenda

    Us is getting to be like a foreign country you can’t. Talk walk or look every body wants an apology

  • Anathalee Sandlin

    I personally appreciate freedom from everyone’s religion. It doesn’t bother me if someone tells me to have a blessed day…it’s their right to say it. To talk to me about salvation though and it bothers me greatly. All these people feeling persecuted for their religion need to lighten up and recognize people may be feeling persecuted by them trying to foist their religion on them.

  • Lotus

    I don’t have any issue with someone telling me to have a blessed day. To be polite, I always say thank you. But to have a bank teller share about her religious beliefs with me, as a customer, I take issue with that. It would make me feel extremely uncomfortable. She crossed the line.

    • Claire

      Lotus, it is interesting to note that the man who was cussing the Lord’s name was not offended by her discussion and told her so.

  • Flonk Bob

    She doesn’t have the freedom to violate my right to believe in anything or nothing as my mind sees fit. If a bank teller started telling me how to talk, and proselytizing in the bank I would NOT be kind. I would tell her to take her imaginary friend and shove him. And I’d complain to management. I think religion is a vile, evil holdover from the youth of our species. Unless it’s disposed of, the species will be.

    • David

      You don’t have to be religious to try to develop some character and maturity. Give it a try.

    • Claire

      What’s a matter, boobie? Didn’t get that big shiney, red fire engine when you were small and now you blame God? Poor baby.

      • Flonk Bob

        why would I blame god? There is nothing there to blame. I don’t blame cosmic rays when they hit my DNA and cause damage because they are not sentient. I don’t blame god for anything because it doesn’t exist. I also don’t bitch at the easter bunny because I got the wrong chocolate eggs, or the devil because he didn’t make me do it. He doesn’t exist either, you see? It’s really a simple concept.

  • daniel

    Makes me proud to bank at U.S. Bank. They are open on Saturday and Sunday (for those of us who live 7 days a week). She was warned twice, what else does she want? She is selling her time to her employer. They get to tell her how to act, what to say to customers, what to wear, so on. If you don’t like it, you can go work at Chic ‘a filet.

      • Flonk Bob

        Who did he demean? His point is valid, as is his reference to the alternative employer. Their actions have made it clear that they follow the same sort of muddle-headed thinking.

    • Rosalind McDermott

      As an atheist I really don’t appreciate the saying and often feel assaulted by people saying “have a blessed day” . Blessed is a value judgement. Sometimes it depends on the way they say it – ‘Blessed’ can be used as a cuss word, you know.

  • mamac

    I did not even finish reading the rest of the story. Cause there is no sense in it. Some people are trying so hard to take “Bless” Jesus,Lord anything along those lines out of our speech. But people is trying so hard so we as CHRISTAINS are going to have to try even HARDER TO KEEP OUR LORD’S NAME SHOUTING FROM OUR LIPS..They are not will not tell me I cannot say something about my LORD.Cause that is why ALL THAT BLOOD WAS SHED FROM OUR MILITARY ….They died so we could have freedom to do what we want,SAY, WHAT WE WANT…So, everyone HAVE A BLESSED DAY and JESUS LOVES YOU!!!!

    • Flonk Bob

      Talk about your mythology all you want. BUT NOT AT WORK. Is that so hard to understand? Besides, doesn’t your book say ‘worship in private’? Do it!

    • Patrish

      i get so fed up with people who come into my work and see have a blessed day. Yes, they are the religious ones. Since I am a receptionist, I have to polite. I have no interest in religion and I resent that people assume they can push their views on me. If people complained, they she was being too pushy – she was warned – and she got what she deserved. Instead of praying to GOD to fix things, she goes to a court. Typical.

    • Lotus

      @MAMAC – You don’t have to scream and yell at all of us with your all caps. Geez. And please, before you make your screaming comments, how about reading the story first? It’ll make you appear more credible.

      • mamac

        How bout I CAN Scream if I want. You or nobody else is big enough to shut me up. People who know me knows that I’am credible in what I do…my actions…

  • David

    I prefer not to have anyone else’s religious beliefs intrude upon my business day, whether I’m at my place of work or theirs. There is a time and place for everything, and modeling her beliefs by being humble, cheerful, and hard-working would have been more effective. Her co-workers were also being forced to have her religious comments in their line of hearing during the day.

    • Claire

      David, would your thin skin and ears be able to take “Have a nice day?” or is your last name Scrooge? Maybe “Bah! Humbug!” is your usual way of greeting people?

      • Patrish

        Have a nice day is pretty neutral, but ‘blessed day’ has religious overtones. I resent it as I am borderline atheist – so what about my religious freedom to not have to .be insulted?

      • Flonk Bob

        Claire, baby, would you be happy if I came knocking at your door to tell you and your family about the lack of evidence for any sort of a god? How about me working with your 16 year old daughter (hypothetical daughter, I don’t care if you really have one) and telling her all about the abuses of the clergy (of every religion) in stunning detail? You would object, and rightly so. That sort of discussion is for outside the workplace. Customers and co-workers should not discuss politics or religion at work.

  • Tammie

    i am a christian and i am so thankful when an employe tells me to have a blessed day. i am not offened by it at all. i wish a lot more people would say that. i have even said it to the employees. this just shows how christians are being persecuited for their faith in God. i applaud that lady for saying that.you all have a blessed nite.

    • Flonk Bob

      But you see, Tammie, I am NOT a christer. I’m not thankful when someone tries to foist their silly mythology on me. I have no desire to be ‘blessed’ by that evil demon of the desert that the holey book of Judeo-Christianity purports to follow. Do you want to have people around you all day starting each comment with ‘inshallah’? Probably not. Do you want the followers of the pedophile prophet to stop work to discuss their particular ‘religion of peace’? Neither do I. Nor do I want to hear about a blue freak with lots of extra arms, a funny looking guy with an elephant head, a Jewish carpenter hanging on a stick, the ancestors who help with my rice harvest. None of it is real. None of it is believable, and not un-importantly, none of it has to do with work in a public place.

      • verbumreale

        If Tammie is imposing her beliefs on you then guess what you are imposing yours on her by resorting to calling her beliefs “silly mythology” and referring to the “pedophile prophet” etc,. While I agree that the woman in the story doesn’t have a case, what’s hysterical about the response of atheists is that you act like this is about you. She was fired because she repeatedly broke company policy, not because she imposed her beliefs on anyone. If the company didn’t have that policy and in fact encouraged their employees to say “Have a blessed day” they would be perfectly within their rights no matter how many atheists wined. And those atheists would be perfectly within their rights to take their business elsewhere. And if WHNT decided that atheist comments wouldn’t be displayed in this forum they would have the right to do so. But you can bet that atheists would be whining up a storm somewhere. Atheists need to realize that freedom of religion is not freedom from religion, and religious people do not wake up every day thinking “OK how can I piss off Flonk Bob” today.

  • Beverly Jackson

    We allow for every kind of freedom in this country except God. If your sexual preference is gay or lesbian, you have rights and can publically express it, no matter Christian families don’t want to walk into a local store with their young children and see two men tongue kissing and holding hands. Truly I don’t hold any malice against anyone. I just use that example because American is ridiculous in what we let happen here. If we are free, then we are all free to express ourselves. That goes for Christians too. I personally will not use a bank associated with that one.

  • obama sucks

    if she was a moslem she could have said anything she wanted to and laid in the floor and prayed to pos allah all day long. and she would still have her job. the devil must own the bank!!! WAKE UP FOOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Sue

    I see nothing wrong with what she did or said. I go into places all the time where employees are rude. They never say thank you or come again and they are ignoring you while they are waiting on you. They are talking to other employees and if you ask them a question they act like you are imposing on them. So- for someone to say have a blessed day would be VERY WELCOME!

  • N O'Hara

    This is HER version of the events. I am sure there is more to this story.

    Like it or not, your employer does have the right to set policies for their business.

    This is not a 1st Amendment case. She was not denied any right by the government.

    I wonder how accepting she is of other people’s views.
    How would she react is a gay person wished her “Happy Pride”?

  • Martin Kempton

    Sorry but this is settled law in the 7th circuit. See Elizabeth ANDERSON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. U.S.F. LOGISTICS (IMC), INC., Defendant-Appellee.

    No. 01-1486.
    Decided: December 14, 2001

    The facts are identical and the former employee lost.

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