ACLU Files Suit on Behalf of Librarian Who Lost Job Over Harry Potter
POPLAR BLUFF, MISSOURI, May 27, 2008 -The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri has filed suit against the City of Poplar Bluff after the City’s public library disciplined a part-time employee who objected to participating in the promotion of a Harry Potter book.The employee, Deborah Smith, had religious objections to the promotion, which she believed encouraged children to worship the occult.
On June 8, 2007, the Poplar Bluff Public Library announced it would hold a “Harry Potter Night” on the eve of the July 21, 2007, release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a novel by J.K. Rowling.Library employees were expected to dress as witches and wizards at the event, which was directed toward children and held outside the library’s normal operating hours.
Smith explained to her supervisors that she could not participate in the special event because of her religious beliefs. She asked to be excused from working the night of the event since there was adequate staff who had volunteered to work.She was subsequently suspended without pay for 10 days and claims she suffered retaliation upon her return to work.The retaliation was so severe that Smith was forced to quit.
The lawsuit, filed in the federal district court in Cape Girardeau, alleges the City and Smith’s supervisor violated federal law by refusing to accommodate her sincerely held religious beliefs.