FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. -- A white church secretary is suing her former employer, saying she was fired for marrying a black man.
Debra Dodd, the former secretary at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, Tenn., and the Rev. Tim Smith, pastor of the church, agree on one thing: Most of the members of that congregation are great people.
But from there, their stories diverge.
Dodd has filed a lawsuit for back wages and $500,000 in punitive damages against the church after she was fired for what she says is racial discrimination.
Dodd said the all-white church first embraced her during her two years as secretary -- and then suddenly shunned and subsequently fired her May 26 after they learned she had married a black man in April.
Smith said Dodd's marriage is unrelated to her firing, but also said his lawyer has directed him not to discuss particulars.
"In this congregation, I work with some of the most loving people in the city," Smith said. "I can't comment on the lawsuit, but there is more to this story."