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Censorship won't fly: FAA agrees to stop censoring religious speech

Supervisor endured suspension, transfer after expressing religious views at work

ATLANTA — A Federal Aviation Administration employee disciplined for discussing his religious views on homosexual behavior while at work will no longer face punishment.  In 2006, Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Larry Dombrowski after he was told that he had “no free speech rights in the government workplace.”

“Christians shouldn’t be penalized for expressing their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot.  “Government agencies have no right to harass and threaten employees who choose to express their religious faith in a manner that does not disrupt the workplace.  We are pleased that the FAA has taken steps to ensure that all employees’ First Amendment rights will be respected.”

On March 3, 2005, Dombrowski, who works in the FAA’s civil service as a supervisor, received a letter of reprimand from his regional manager.  The document accused Dombrowski of engaging in “unbecoming conduct” as a supervisor for several friendly conversations he had with unoffended co-workers regarding his Christian beliefs.

For his actions, Dombrowski was punished with a seven-day suspension without pay and a forced relocation from his position in Louisville, Ky., to Birmingham, Ala.  A settlement agreement clears Dombrowski’s record and requires the government to pay attorneys’ fees and costs.

In compliance with the agreement, the FAA distributed a memo titled “Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Expression in the Workplace” to employees.  The document, originally issued by the White House in 1997, informs federal government agencies that they “shall permit personal religious expression by Federal employees to the greatest extent possible, consistent with requirements of law and interests in workplace efficiency” as stipulated in the guidelines.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.  Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

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Kevin Theriot
Kevin Theriot
Senior Counsel
Kevin Theriot serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom