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Ex-NJ Toll Taker Who Claims She Was Ordered To Stop Saying 'God Bless You' Files Lawsuit

PERTH AMBOY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A former Garden State Parkway toll collector has filed a lawsuit because she claims 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 motorists drove away.

"As they leave, I said, 'Have a good day, God bless you,'" she told CBS 2's Christine Sloan earlier this month.

Ex-NJ Toll Taker Who Claims She Was Ordered To Stop Saying 'God Bless You' Files Lawsuit

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

"He told me he wanted to talk to me, that I couldn't say, 'God bless you,' anymore to customers because somebody might get offended," Fernandez told CBS 2.

"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.''

A spokesman for the Garden State Parkway had told CBS 2 the agency has no policy against saying, "God bless you."

"It does say, 'Provide customer service, smile' – it does say all that," Fernandez said. "But it does not say in any line, 'Do not say, 'God bless you.'"

New Jersey Turnpike Authority spokesman Tom Feeney would not comment on the lawsuit. But Feeney told WCBS 880's Levon Putney that Fernandez resigned after six weeks on the job because she didn't like her work schedule. "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.

Officials at the New Jersey Turnpike said Fernandez handed them a resignation letter consisting of one line with the date she was leaving, CBS 2 reported.

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

She told News 12 New Jersey that she feels like she's taking a stand for God.

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