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Cali Christian Intern Not Allowed to Share Faith on Lunch Breaks & After Hours
ICC Note:
This is in the category of “could it happen here?” It doesn’t compare with “real” persecution overseas but it is so unbelievable that we had to bring it to your attention.

Student Intern Speech Case Involves Sharing Faith during Lunch Breaks and After Hours
By Mark Ellis
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
COSTA MESA, CALIFORNIA (ANS) — A case involving a graduate student intern who witnessed to co-workers during her lunch breaks and after-hours headed for trial, barring a last-minute settlement with the government.
Jacqueline Escobar, a former graduate student at California State University-Long Beach filed a federal free speech lawsuit against the university and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), according to the Pacific Justice Institute.

While completing an internship with DCFS, Escobar came under scrutiny for sharing her faith with co-workers during lunch breaks and after-hours, and for changing into a shirt with the vaguely religious message “Found” after signing out for the day. Escobar received the internship in part because of her straight-A academic record, and while at DCFS, she was regularly complimented on the quality of her work.

Based on these incidents, DCFS collaborated with CSULB to draft a “Performance Contract” that directed Escobar to refrain from sharing her faith, even during breaks and after work hours. Escobar could not agree to such a sweeping prohibition that included her religious practice during non-working hours. When she declined to sign the document, DCFS terminated Escobar from her internship.

“Through this case, we hope to send a powerful message to government employers: you cannot trounce upon the First Amendment rights of people of faith and expect to get away with it,” said Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute (PJI).

Trial was set to begin April 3rd. Escobar is represented by PJI affiliate attorneys Watkins & Casaudoumecq. “Freedom of religion is the first and most fundamental constitutional right,” said attorney Daniel R. Watkins, representing Escobar. “Unfortunately, as this case illustrates, religious beliefs are under assault from every sector of government. It is our intent to ensure that people of faith working in government are afforded the protections our Founding Fathers intended.”