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SF Employees Fired After Religious Exemptions Denied Over Mandate Suing City

800 requests for exemptions from vaccine mandate denied by City of San Francisco

By Evan Gahr, March 17, 2022 11:42 am

Three San Francisco employees ousted from their jobs after their requests for religious exemptions to the City’s vaccine mandate were denied in an arbitrary and capricious manner, are suing the City for religious discrimination.

The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, charges violations of the federal Civil Rights Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.  It names San Francisco Mayor London Breed and San Francisco Human Resources Director Carol Isen as defendants.

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Last June San Francisco required its entire 35,000 workforce to be vaccinated by November 1, 2021 in order to keep their jobs. There were ostensibly religious exemptions to the policy. But the Associated Press reported on October 14 that out of 800 requests for a religious exemption not a single one was granted.

The stipulated religious exemption sounds like government chicanery to make a draconian policy politically palatable. All three plaintiffs in the lawsuit provided detailed and nuanced reasons why they should be entitled to religious exemptions.

Plaintiff Selina Keene is described in court papers as “a Christian who believes in the sanctity of life” and “is opposed to the vaccines because they were derived from stem cells from aborted fetuses, in direct contradiction to her religious beliefs.”

Keene’s request for a religious exemption was denied without an explanation even though she provided the government a detailed explanation of her religious beliefs.  She also claims to have natural immunity having contracted COVID in January 2022.

The second plaintiff, Melody Fountila, is also described as a religious Christian who opposes the vaccine because she believes it was derived from fetal cells.

The third plaintiff, Mark McClure, is, according to the complaint, a “Christian” who “is opposed to taking the vaccine because they are derived from aborted fetal cells in violations of his religious beliefs.”

The lawsuit says that San Francisco “arbitrarily and unreasonably implemented the mandates,” which were really superfluous since unvaccinated employees can “safely perform their job duties while protecting themselves fellow employees and the community they serve through non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as daily health screenings, wearing masks, quarantining, and in some cases, telecommuting to work.”

This failure to make the required “reasonable accommodations”  for the employees’ religious beliefs violates Title 7 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the complaint argues. “Defendants have utterly failed to make reasonable accommodations for the Plaintiffs’ religious accommodation requests. Given that the employees could submit to daily health screenings, wearing masks, quarantining and telecommuting for work, those requests for accommodation would not amount to an undue hardship on the Defendants. Those exact same accommodations were made and worked during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021”–before vaccines were available.

The complaint also says that San Francisco is also violating the California Fair Employment and Housing Acts’ requirements for reasonable accommodations of employee’s religious beliefs. “The Defendants herein are attempting to coerce Plaintiffs into violating their faith by making them choose between their faith and continued employment.”

The lawsuit says that to initially stave off dismissal the plaintiffs went on administrative leave and used “sick time, vacation time and [federal leave] time in order to mitigate their damages.” But now “Plaintiffs are being terminated because they do not want to take a vaccine that violates their protected religious beliefs, and because the Defendants will not admit the efficacy of the prior means of protecting the public and their employees.”

They are seeking unspecified damages and a court order requiring San Francisco to “accept all sincere requests for religious accommodations” and “medical exemptions based on having COVID-19 antibodies acquired as a result of surviving a COVID-19 infection.”

University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, an expert on religious liberty, told the California Globe that he does not think the federal claim is viable because under current jurisprudence the employer can easily justify a refusal to accommodate religious beliefs. “The employer doesn’t have to show much under federal law. An employer need only show that an exemption would impose more than a de minimis [minimal] cost. A single case of Covid can do that through sick pay for days off work or increased insurance costs; an outbreak of Covid in the workforce could impose huge costs.”

Mayor Breed’s press office and lawyers for the plaintiffs did not respond to requests for comment. Contact information for the plaintiffs could not be located online.

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8 thoughts on “SF Employees Fired After Religious Exemptions Denied Over Mandate Suing City

  1. 1.) The only Covid “vaccines” available in the USA are EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) – by definition EXPERIMENTAL, aka investigational. It is a violation of federal law to coerce anyone into becoming a human medical test subject- which everyone taking these shot is doing. The “Comirnaty” brand DOES NOT EXIST in production in the USA and was a marketing feint to fake out the unaware…
    2.) “Mandating” a medical procedure on an employee is exercising ownership of their bodies.
    3.) 1990 Cruzan v Director, MO Dept. of Health confirmed everyone’s right to choose or refuse any medical treatment.
    4.) Any company or entity that states they are promoting or requiring the Covid-19 shots “to prevent Covid-19” or any other unproven statement regarding these shots is violating FTC “deceptive medical practices ”laws. The FTC Act requires a minimum of 2 double-blind placebo controlled studies that prove any claims made or any medical product. To date, not even ONE such test has been conducted on these injections marketed as Covid-19 “vaccines”.”

  2. If one has the power to decline what religious belief is of another then that country does NOT have Freedom of Religion.

    No entity shall be able to decide what is someone’s belief! that is what tyrannical gov’t do.

    1. Exactly, I pray these claimants win. The defendants are tyrannists who want to control people. They should have just made reasonable accommodations but they obviously just want to manipulate and control employees. I quit my job because of tyranny and am now working in a job where i am not discriminated against. However, I am grateful these people are fighting for their rights.

  3. There is only one acceptable religion in liberal areas and that is liberalism. Don’t ever let a liberal tell you it is not a religious cult.

  4. If the argument is based on religion, everyone needs to be comfortable with the notion of Jesus as a real person and that God exists, with both being false. Jesus, if there was a person named Jesus, was a follower of a cult that gained traction. It’s kind of hard to argue a falsehood when the issues of ignorance take center stage.

    1. Let get this right:

      Religious FREEDOM is NOT based on what someone else (eg you in this case) decides for me what I shd think to be true. It is based on what I think to be true. This is FREEDOM.

      But of course, you will have your freedom NOT to believe in anything, and so do I.

      Imagine one day some authority decides for you what you can or cannot think, believe in, practice, or even do, and remember this can happen to anyone. Do you want this country to become like that, void of any type of freedom?

      Liberty is what makes America great.

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