Freedom
May 29, 2024

Christian Lifeguard Sues L.A. County Fire Department for Religious Discrimination Over Forced Raising of Pride Flag

Christian Lifeguard Sues L.A. County Fire Department for Religious Discrimination Over Forced Raising of Pride Flag

May 29, 2024
Freedom
May 29, 2024

Christian Lifeguard Sues L.A. County Fire Department for Religious Discrimination Over Forced Raising of Pride Flag

Thomas More Society Defends Public Servant's Civil Liberties In Federal Court

(May 29, 2024 – Los Angeles, California) Thomas More Society attorneys are representing Captain Jeffrey Little in a federal lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which has illegally threatened Little with dismissal over his refusal to raise the ‘Progress Pride Flag.’ The case, filed on May 24, 2024, in United States District Court, charges the Fire Department with violating Little’s rights under the First Amendment, federal, and state law. Little’s sincere and deeply held religious beliefs prohibit his participation in raising the Progress Pride Flag. For that, he has suffered religious discrimination, harassment, and retaliation at the hands of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

In March 2023, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution requiring that all county-operated facilities fly the Progress Pride Flag during the month of June. In June 2023, Little requested a religious accommodation that would exempt him from personally participating in the required raising of the Progress Pride Flag in accordance with the county board’s resolution. On June 19, 2023, the Los Angeles County Fire Department initially granted Little’s request and promised him that he would neither have to raise the Progress Pride Flag himself, nor personally ensure that the flag is raised at his station. Little’s religious accommodation was rescinded two days later on June 21, 2023.

Almost immediately after the accommodation was revoked, Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel engaged in illegal retaliation and harassment against Little. His supervising officers—particularly Little’s division and section chiefs—ordered him to raise the Progress Pride Flag. In issuing a direct order to Little on June 22, 2023, Division Chief Fernando Boiteux told him, “You are an LA County employee, that’s the only thing that matters,” and, “Your religious beliefs do not matter.” The next day, Little was subsequently removed from his Fire Department role on the background investigation unit. The Department then revealed to unauthorized persons that Little had requested a religious accommodation. Following that disclosure, Little received a death threat that also targeted his daughters.

The federal lawsuit, filed on behalf of Captain Little by Thomas More Society attorneys, comes as a result of the Fire Department’s continued failure to accommodate Little’s religious beliefs, as required by the United States Constitution, federal, and state civil rights law. The verified complaint seeks damages, a temporary restraining order, and a permanent injunction—protecting Little’s religious rights during Pride Month.

Paul Jonna, Thomas More Society Special Counsel and Partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP, stated: “Captain Jeffrey Little is an upstanding American, a devout Christian father, and a public servant who has honorably served the Los Angeles County Fire Department for over 22 years. He courageously stood on principle and asked for a simple religious accommodation—which he is rightfully and legally due—only to be first denied, then threatened, harassed, discriminated and retaliated against for his widely shared Christian religious beliefs. In our great country, Americans can’t even be forced to salute the American flag as a condition of government employment. Yet, in this case, the L.A. County Fire Department seeks to force Captain Little to personally raise the Progress Pride Flag in violation of his sincere and deeply held religious beliefs—or face termination. The L.A. County Fire Department’s actions are not only deeply un-American, but also flagrantly illegal. We’ve filed this federal lawsuit to vindicate Captain Little’s religious liberty rights and to firmly establish that this sort of blatant religious discrimination has no place in our public life.”

Read the Verified Complaint for Damages and Injunctive Relief, filed May 24, 2024, by Thomas More Society attorneys in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, on behalf of Captain Jeffrey Little in Captain Jeffrey Little v. Los Angeles County Fire Department, et al., here.

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