The New Jersey Transit employee fired for burning pages of the Quran at the site of a proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero will get his job back, according to a settlement obtained by The Star-Ledger.He should also get a medal and a parade in his honor.
Derek Fenton, who sparked a national firestorm and condemnation from Gov. Chris Christie during his protest on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, will be reassigned to his $86,110-a-year job and get $25,000 for pain and suffering. The settlement, dated today, also says he will get back pay equal to $331.20 for every day since his firing.
The state will also pay $25,000 in legal fees to the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the suit on behalf of Fenton, 40, of Bloomingdale.
"Our government cannot pick and choose whose free speech rights are protected, based on whether or not they approve of the content of our statements or actions," Fenton said in a statement. "This is the very essence of the First Amendment."Sorry, Governor, but it's perfectly legal and withing his rights. You may not like it, but that doesn't mean it's illegal.
Fenton can return to work after completing a physical and drug test on Monday, said Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the ACLU in New Jersey.
The Attorney General’s Office and a Christie spokesman declined comment. NJ Transit did not respond to request for comment.
The settlement comes after the governor publicly supported Fenton’s firing. In February, Christie said he didn’t ask for the dismissal but called it appropriate because "that kind of intolerance is ... unacceptable."
I'm sure once I go outside I'm going to see flying pigs.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a prominent Muslim group, has also said Fenton should keep his job.I agree with the ACLU and CAIR? What the hell is going on here?
"Our question was always, was his action in any way related to his duties on the job? Apparently it wasnt," spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said today. "What he did, however reprehensible, should not impact on his employment."