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DETROIT (AP) — A man who says his career suffered after he posted a photo of himself wearing a Santa Claus costume and holding a semi-automatic rifle has cleared a key hurdle in a lawsuit against the state of Michigan.

Calvin Congden’s lawsuit can proceed on his First Amendment claim and other arguments. Federal Judge Mark Goldsmith released a decision Tuesday.

Congden, an Army veteran, worked for Michigan’s Child Protective Services division. He says he lost favor with managers after posting his Santa photo on Facebook.

Congden says a manager told co-workers that he “looked crazy” and warned them to be careful. The state says Congden eventually resigned under a settlement with his union.

Congden says the state illegally retaliated against him because of his Facebook post and complaints to others.