Management & Operations

Pa. agency sued for not running atheists ads

Posted on April 30, 2015

COLTS
COLTS

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit against the County of Lackawanna Transit System (COLTS) over its refusal to allow a local atheist group, the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society, to advertise on its buses. The lawsuit argues that the transit system violated NEPA Freethought Society’s free speech rights by rejecting its ads because of the group’s views.

Since 2012, the NEPA Freethought Society has tried unsuccessfully to run various ads on COLTS buses. The rejected ads say “atheists” along with the group’s name and/or website.

COLTS first turned down one of these ads under a policy that gave the agency discretion to reject ads it deemed "controversial" or that would spark debate or discussion of public issues. In commenting on the rejection, COLTS’ solicitors said the agency did not accept any ads “promoting” or “attacking” religion or ads intended to spark public debate. However, according to the complaint, for at least 10 years before NEPA Freethought Society tried to advertise, the agency never rejected a single ad.

In September 2013, the agency again rejected the society’s proposed “atheists” ad, explaining that COLTS believed the ad would “offend or alienate” some riders, causing the agency to lose money. Eight days after rejecting the ad, COLTS adopted a new advertising policy that explicitly banned ads that “promote the existence or non-existence of a supreme deity” or address religion.

In 2014, COLTS finally accepted a version of the NEPA Freethought Society’s ad after it removed the word “atheists.” According to the complaint, COLTS’ decision to ban all religious ads and begin enforcing its advertising policy was motivated by its dislike for NEPA Freethought Society’s beliefs.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Calif.'s SolTrans taps Kranda as executive director

Beth Kranda, who succeeds Mona Babauta, currently serves as Deputy Director of Transit, the City of Santa Rosa’s senior transit position.

City of New York makes recommendations for MTA subway plan

The plan from Mayor Bill de Blasio and his team comes ahead of the release of the MTA's so-called "subway turnaround plan" next week.

Rock Region METRO's Varner announces departure from agency

He will be stepping down to take a regional leadership role within First Transit, an international transit operations, management and consulting firm.

JTA's Ford wins prestigious COMTO award

The Thomas G. Neusom Founders Award is the highest honor bestowed by COMTO. Ford accepted the award at the 46th National Meeting and Training Conference in Detroit.

NJ Transit weighing disciplinary actions for no-show train engineers

It's unclear how many of the cancellations stemmed from engineers exercising a contract provision that allows them to take two days to report for work when schedule changes are made.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close