Jehovah's Witness already suing Boston over Covid-19 policies files second suit, this time for firing him as a cop after he refused to get shots
A Boston Police officer who is already part of a suit seeking millions of dollars in damages from Boston over its rescinded indoor vaccination requirements today filed a separate suit seeking at least another $2 million because the city fired him last month after rejecting his request for a religious exemption from Covid-19 vaccinations.
In his new suit, filed today in Suffolk Superior Court, Saviel Colon said the city forced him into a "Hobson's choice" even though it knew he was a Jehovah's Witness when it hired him and he began working as a police officer in December, 2019 - and even though he filed all the paperwork the department required for a religious exemption.
Colon says the city rejected his exemption request and put him on an unpaid leave in October, 2021, and then fired him last month.
In addition to the "financial and emotional distress" - including headaches, exhaustion and sleeplessness_ - he says he's suffered, Colon adds:
Defendant's decision on disciplinary action was embarrassing and was made publicly in front of all his colleagues at the Police Station.
He says he also lost retirement payments because his firing came before he was fully vested in the department program.
In addition to the minimum of $2 million he is seeking, Colon also says he is entitled to additional damages for "emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety, sleeplessness, and emotional trauma" as well as costs and attorney's fees.
Although Colon raises his religion throughout his complaint, he did not make a violation of the First Amendment one of his formal counts, instead charging the city with such state-level violations as intentional misrepresentation and deceit, tortious interference with a business relationship, intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault - the last because "the actions of the Defendant placed the Plaintiff in fear and apprehension of imminent bodily harm."
Jehovah's Witnesses as an organization do not oppose Covid-19 vaccinations:
Are Jehovah’s Witnesses Opposed to Vaccination?
No. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not opposed to vaccination. We view vaccination as a personal decision for each Christian to make. Many of Jehovah’s Witnesses choose to get vaccinated.
Earlier this year, Colon joined another suit against Boston over its one-time requirements that people show proof of vaccination to get into most public indoor venues.
As part of that suit - brought in federal court by the same attorney handling his new state lawsuit - Colon raised the issue of his being put on unpaid leave despite his religious beliefs and further alleged that the requirement to show proof of vaccination, he was "unable to go to restaurants, museums and zoos with his family."
Both suits were filed by Richard Chambers, a Lynnfield attorney.
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Did he take an oath to become a cop? if so, see ya.
Now you can put in the Life of Brian gifs.
So it's OK to make fun of somebody's religion?
in this case... maybe
i know that JWs are forbidden from joining the military. i couldn't find anything specific to police work, but the little i do know of their beliefs is that they would seem to be opposed to police work as well.
so, either this case is a money grab by someone claiming religious beliefs they don't adhere to, or its someone who was fundamentally unfit for their job due to personal ethos and they should never have been on duty.
in either case, it strikes me as absurd.
Can't take oaths.
Therefore, I am not making fun of anyone's religion but stating what is part of their belief system. If the person here took an oath to be a police officer, they can't claim a religious exemption when they don't want the Pfizer shot.
Thanks for trying Adam.
No government can determine what is a valid religious practice or belief. This would violate the Separation Clause. "Oath" is a rather broad term. Most "swearing ins" now offer "oath or affirmation" in the language.
For the court to consider whether oaths or similar and the refusal to do same as a part of a religious practice finds the court determining what is a valid religious practice for a specific faith, and what is not. The government is not allowed to make that decision.
If they are forwarding religion as a ground for this case it may be entertained.
MA Courts have attempted to engage in determining what is "required" under some religions by examining church canons and having clergy testify. However on appeal the SJC has rules that is government intrusion into religion and not constitutional.
Arm chair lawyers here can spew all they want. We will just have to see what the court says in hearings leading into the case itself.
Don't they do this all the time?
I'm pretty sure that if I declared myself the sole member of the Grand Church of Fung Wah which holds that I don't have to pay taxes, the government would absolutely step in to make some claims about the validity of my beliefs.
You need some followers
I volunteer. I also have a strongly held belief that I don't have to pay taxes.
Now we have a religion. Suck it, IRS.
Sign me up too. We can get a church bus.
The bus is actually an important part of the faith
All services are held in front of the holy light of the flaming Fung Wah.
By the side...
By the side, not of the River Jordan or the Sea of Galilee, but the Mass Pike on the Sunday of a holiday weekend.
A priest, a minister and ..
A Jehovah's Witness Elder get off the Red line in Davis Square...
The priest says, "Who's up for a slice of pizza?"
The minister says, "I can take one, what's good that's nearby?"
The priest pauses momentarily and replies emphatically, "Oath!"
The Elder sighs deeply and responds, "Unfortunately, I can't take that."
If they cheaply and cynically play it like a card.
(Expletive) this guy's mythology.
JW is a cult
It's always fine to make fun of cults.
All organized religions are,
All organized religions are, Jesus just had a head start.
So why have there been comments before saying things against Christians? Why are some religions protected and some not on this site? What a hypocritical space.
Gaffin's editing of the comments is decidedly minimal.
Religious intolerance John?
That seems beneath you to make fun of another religion.
Or do you just get upset when its targeted at Catholics?
Hit The Blue Tent
Are you taking to many to the head on ice there or are have you gone over the handlebars once too many times?
Seems a little hypocritical John
But hey when you've got no leg to stand on, move onto the personal attacks. You didn't feel like making light of alcoholism again?
John is alive?
I thought he had an aneurysm and passed after the whole Frank Baker, "Lord hear our Prayah's" episode
You were making fun of a religious practice and a Boston accent at the same time.
I am pointing out the difference between your religious mockery and the mockery of people who are from here, unlike say Adam and many others here who are transplants, and a person using their stated religion to justify not obeying a work mandate through a religious exemption when they may have (not proven just assumed) violated their own stated religious beliefs in taking that job.
Do you need it done with flash cards or basic storyboarding?
Sick reference. Or was that a reference to Purdue?
Anyway, the word salad, personal attacks, mockery of head trauma and deflections don't excuse your hypocrisy. Be better John!
I educated you that the terminology was not specific to Catholics and that Protestants also use it.
Read and more importantly, retain your information
And The Boston Accent?
The mocking the Boston accent is getting tiresome real quick.
I have had New Yorkers come to Boston and tell me "I tawlk funny". Sure thing honey.
Seems like you're making fun of the NY accent
But take issue with Friartuck mocking the Boston accent?
Once again, beyond parody hahaha
they eat red hot dogs and worship Yankees
I have to ask...
What's wrong with red hot dogs? And what color hot dogs do you eat? Gray?
(always on the lookout for a good brand of hot dog)
There are alternatives to oaths
JW is not the only religion that prohibits oaths. For situations that usually require them, including testifying in court, there are alternative affirmations that may be used.
What is the religious basis?
It can not be due to the label of Jehovah's Witness. Jehovah Witness' leaders' official position according to JW.org is that inoculations are okay. So what is the guy actually claiming?
So many claims for money for emotional suffering. Sorry baby, in Massachusetts you get zero for emotional suffering unless it is related to a physical harm that derived from the same situation. All the whinging is fluffery.
Looks to me more of just hopping on a train hoping this is a money choo-choo riding to bank. Nothing like combining controversy with religious beliefs and emotional pain to squeeze money out of the public purse. It makes sense however. Public yelling of religiosity flavored with controversy are proven methods for making tax exempt bank.
What is sad is that there was a time when many religious folk stepped into controversy, used the spotlight that came along to demand justice. Early Christian Fundamentalists such as William Jennings Bryant defended Biblical Creationism but at the same time inveighed against the greed and violence of industrial oligarchs. Imagine a Christian Evangelical today actually criticizing profit corporations because of greed?
If this fellow, and the other people riding this train to Covid-19 bank had one schmear of dignity in their claim they would at least articulate what is the basis of their religious exemption. There might be lessons to learn. But bandying about willy-nilly the claim of religious exemption is I think violating one of the Catholic cardinal sins, Pride. It is a form of putting the self ahead of all others based on the reasoning that they areexempt, even superior to the hoi poloi.
Likely not admissible
Courts cannot enter this as evidence. It would be the government ruling on what is, and what is not a religious belief and concept. Even if it is printed at that web site, entering that into the case would be a violation of the separation of church and state and be unconstitutional.
If they do allow it, that is grounds for appeal immediately and the SJC will send it back. The state has already been down this road with other cases.
Courts can not keep passing the buck
Religious exemption claims are becoming a pharaonic plague upon the body politic. Eventually courts will have to deal with the real and trumped up claims of religious exemption from laws. Exemptions from anti-discrimination laws is just the top of the iceberg.
There is precedent. Conscientious Objectors are a valid route of objecting to military service. But a mere claim is not enough to qualify. The person has to prove their objection is based on beliefs that are part of their way of life.
So if this JW cop has accepted inoculations in the past then his claim of exemption fails instantly. That does not touch on the claim of religious exemption. It is about whether his past actions are consistent with the current claim.
But what of Evangelical Christians who want to discriminate against Gay people in providing a public service, such as baking a cake? Eventually judges will not be able to rely upon issues not related to the basic claim. They will have to look at the claims and tenets of the adherent's particular religion.
A person can't say willy nilly they are Christian and justify discrimination in a secular context on that basis. There is no one Christian religion.
For a Catholic following the Roman church that might be fairly easy. Although there is a blurriness since Roman Catholicism also has a secular government. Where is the line between the dictates of a secular government that filter through a non-secular institution? One interesting aspect of that challenge is that RC can not truthfully claim that its dogmas and policies are consistent from day one. As late as the early 20th century capital punishment was accepted by the RC church.
The current Supremes opened a can of worms when they started giving exemptions from public policy laws that are based on keeping bigotry out of hiring and selling. But people such as Alito and Thomas are either exemplars of the Peter Principle or are anti-democrats who want to subvert the national government into a 1 party government where they and their like are the rulers.
The First Amendment doesn't give you/believers/anyone an all-purpose get-out-of-rules-free card. Not even if that's because your tax money is being spent on something you consider sinful.
It does mean that the government doesn't get to say "these over here are real religions, and their followers get XYZ protections, but those other things aren't, too bad." They also don't get to disqualify a claim because the person is claiming to belong to A Specific Church, whose leadership says "no, that's not what we believe."
Whether someone is a good Catholic, or really one of Jehovah's witnesses, is between them and their church. It's not the government's business.
Partly agree, partly disagree
The Establishment Clause is so clear that Anton Scalia could not make it mean what he wants. Government can not establish a religion. But where the conduct of an individual or group is concerned the public at large, via government as the representative, has always been involved in what is and is not allowed in religious practice. I think we can agree on this point.
I also agree that it is not the business of government to determine whether a person is a good Catholic or Jehovah's Witness - whatever good means in this context. But this is not about whether they are good or bad in their religious practice. That is totally outside the issue.
The issue is whether a person's claim is legitimate, real, sincere and genuine. Not an instant claim as though playing a "Get out of whatever" card from a life game of Monopoly. Like any claim more than just a declaration is needed to prove it.
I don't credit the truth of this man's claims one iota. I do not believe that he has suffered "'financial and emotional distress' - including headaches, exhaustion and sleeplessness". I do not believe that he has experienced "emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety, sleeplessness, and emotional trauma". I believe he is a cynical vexatious litigator who is doing this either for a paycheck or because he's just a crank -- fifty-fifty on which one it is, and it doesn't really matter. But even if I'm wrong and everything he says is the stone cold truth, it is still less than the suffering of those who were infected by antivaxxers and died, and he can go pound sand.
I call bullshit my brother is a jehovah witness and he got the vaccine no questions asked and he wasn’t made to do it
Good for your brother for using common sense!
Good for your brother for using common sense and getting the covid-19 vaccine. This religious exemption stuff regarding vaccines of any kind, especially the Covid-19 vaccines, is a poor excuse for not getting vaccines, and a dangerous one, at that. There was an incident in New York, where people were advocating religious exemptions for not getting the measles vaccines, which resulted in an outbreak of measles at the school. Measles is even more potent and more deadly than the measles that we got as children.
Covid-19 itself, is no joke. It's dangerous. The vaccines are for protection. Getting Covid-19 itself, even if one has a milder case of it, and even if one is younger, does increase the risk of one's having a heart attack or a stroke somewhere down the line, regardless of age.
I'm sure glad I got mine, because the alternative is far too dreadful, ion one gets the drift.
Updated the story
With a statement from an official Jehovah's Witnesses Web site that, in fact, Jehovah's Witnesses are free to get vaccinated.
"Officially free to get vaccinated"
The official stance is often different than the 'in the Kingdom Hall' stance. It helps with liability. Officially refusing blood transfusions is also a personal choice... but you better not make that choice.
When I and my family lived in Lincoln, MA,
When I and my family lived in Lincoln, MA, we had some neighbors who lived several houses down the street from us who were Christian Scientists and they refused to vaccinated any of their kids agaist the various childhood diseases, including whooping cough. One of their children, a girl, came down with whooping cough, at a young elementary school age, and whooped and vomited for about an hour in class time. The school didn't send her home, either.
I seriously wonder about their attitude towards the Covid-19 vaccines, and the disease itself, because Covid-19 itself, is dangerous as well.