Kansas Asst. Secretary Of State Sued For Religious Discrimination


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A former employee of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office said Monday in federal court that she was fired in part for not attending church, which left her confused and depressed.

Courtney Canfield argues her firing amounts to religious discrimination.

Her lawsuit doesn’t name Kobach as a defendant, instead targeting Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker, who initially hired her.

Kobach’s office in the past had hosted prayer meetings after work, although attorneys say many employees chose not to attend them. Religious pamphlets were distributed weekly.

When she was fired from her administrative job in late 2013, after less than a year in the office, Canfield didn’t learn it from Rucker. Instead, she got the message from her grandmother, Margie Canfield, a longtime employee of the Kansas Republican Party who knew Rucker.

Courtney Canfield said she avoided the prayer meetings and didn’t read the religious pamphlets. She felt they were inappropriate for the workplace.

Canfield testified that her grandmother had indicated one of the reasons for her firing was because she didn’t go to church. She said the firing left her humiliated.

“(It) was very upsetting,” Canfield said in court. “I cried.”

Attorney Terelle Mock, a 1996 graduate of Pike Valley High School, representing the secretary of state’s office, said Courtney Canfield had been hired by Rucker as a favor to Margie Canfield. Their agreement was that if the younger woman didn’t measure up, the elder Canfield would have to tell her granddaughter that she was being let go.

“This case is about Ms. Canfield’s inability to keep a job,” Mock said during an opening statement. “This case is not about religion.”

Office staff talked with Courtney Canfield about work issues, Mock said. They told her she needed to stay at her desk and not use her cell phone.

“They tried to counsel her on these things,” Mock said. “It didn’t work.”

Mock said Rucker never told Margie Canfield that the firing was related to church attendance.

The trial continues Tuesday.


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Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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