A Boston Police officer who is already part of a suit seeking millions of dollars in damages from Boston over its rescinded indoor vaccination requirements today filed a separate suit seeking at least another $2 million because the city fired him last month after rejecting his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.