KY Judge Throws the Book at Library Cross Wearing Policy

September 3, 2003 ( - A Kentucky public library's firing of a female employee for wearing a necklace with a cross pendant to work has been found unconstitutional.

US District Court Judge Thomas Russell in  Bowling Green, Kentucky determined the Logan County Public Library’s dress code violated the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.   This came after the library fired a female employee for violating the policy’s clause that stated, “No clothing depicting religious, political, or potentially offensive decoration is permitted,” according to a news release from the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the group that filed the suit on dismissed employee Kimberly Draper’s behalf.

Russell in his ruling said, “It is simply beyond credibility that an employee’s personal display of a cross pendant, a star of David, or some other minor, unobtrusive religious symbol on her person would interfere with the library’s purpose.”

Additionally, the court cited a US Supreme Court case, finding the policy to be based on nothing more than “undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance (which) is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression.”

“This is a very important decision that underscores the fact that employees have constitutional rights to express their faith in the workplace so long as that expression does not interfere with the work setting,” said Frank Manion, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ. “The fact that our client was fired for wearing a cross pendant on a necklace to work is not only absurd but unconstitutional as well. This decision sends an important message that employers cannot discriminate against employees who choose to express their religious beliefs in the workplace.”