A former New Jersey toll booth worker said she was told by her supervisor to stop saying “God bless you,” because it might offend motorists.
Cynthia Fernandez has filed a lawsuit against the Garden State Parkway claiming her former boss violated her First Amendment rights.
“I was so upset, I was crying” the mother of three told me. “There’s nothing wrong with saying ‘God bless you.’”
A few weeks ago she was meeting with her supervisor when he laid down the law on her toll booth language.
“He said, ‘I don’t want you to say God bless you anymore. I don’t want you to offend anybody,” Fernandez said.
She’d only been working at the Garden State Parkway for about three weeks and from day one she had always greeted motorists with a smile and a “God bless.”
“I always say it,” she said. “Have a good day, God bless.”
Ms. Fernandez said not one person complained.
“People would tell me I’m the friendliest toll booth worker they’ve met,” she said.
Ms. Fernandez objected to her boss’s edict and pointed out that other toll both workers were engaged in all sorts of unacceptable behavior – like cursing and listening to the radio.
“The handbook says no phones, no foul language, no radios,” she said. “Not one line says do not say God bless.”
So instead of complying with the demand, Ms. Fernandez decided to quit.
A spokesperson for the Garden State Parkway told CBS New York that the Christian toll booth worker resigned for a completely different reason. They said she wanted a steady shift.
They also said her resignation letter made no mention of the “God bless you” ban.
Ms. Fernandez said there’s a reason for that. Her boss told her to write a resignation letter that simply included the last day she planned to work.
“So my resignation letter I gave him was exactly what he told me to write,” she said.
And for the record, the Garden State Parkway told CBS New York they do not have a policy banning the words “God bless you.”
So friends, this is shaping up to be a case of “She Said, He Said.” Hopefully, the judge hearing the “God Bless You” case will have the Wisdom of Solomon.
As for Ms. Fernandez – she’s babysitting until she can find a new job.
For what it’s worth, she ended our telephone conversation with a polite, “God bless you.”
I was not offended in the least.