A high school football coach who was fired for praying on the field has been rehired and awarded a $1.8 million settlement. The coach, Joe Kennedy, had been fighting for his job back for several years, arguing that his First Amendment rights had been violated.
Kennedy, who had been coaching at Bremerton High School in Washington state, had a tradition of praying on the field after games, which had been a personal practice for over a decade. However, in 2015, the school district prohibited him from continuing the tradition, citing concerns over the separation of church and state. Kennedy continued to pray on the field, leading to his eventual dismissal in 2016.
Kennedy filed a lawsuit against the school district, arguing that his constitutional rights had been violated. The lawsuit made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case in 2019, allowing the lower court’s ruling to stand.
However, in a surprise turn of events, the school district has now agreed to rehire Kennedy and pay him a $1.8 million settlement, which includes back pay, damages, and attorney fees. The district has also agreed to revise its policies regarding religious expression, ensuring that employees’ First Amendment rights are protected.
Kennedy expressed his gratitude for the outcome, stating that he was “overwhelmed and humbled” by the support he had received from his community and beyond. He also stated that he hoped his case would serve as a precedent for others to stand up for their rights and beliefs.
The settlement has sparked controversy among some, who argue that it sets a dangerous precedent for public employees to use their position to promote their religious beliefs. However, supporters of Kennedy argue that the settlement upholds his constitutional rights and sends a message that religious expression should be protected in the workplace.
Overall, the case of Joe Kennedy has been a long and contentious one, but the outcome serves as a reminder of the importance of protecting First Amendment rights and standing up for one’s beliefs, even in the face of opposition.