A longtime Long Beach Harbor Department employee sued the city Friday, alleging he was wrongfully denied accommodations when he asked to be excused on religious grounds from the mandatory coronavirus vaccination mandate and the alternative for regular testing.
Christian Scientist Jeremy Groves filed the case in Los Angeles Superior Court. His claims include religious discrimination, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation, failure to engage in the interactive process and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Groves seeks unspecified damages. A representative for the Long Beach City Attorney’s office could not be immediately reached.
Groves has worked for the Long Beach Harbor Department for more than 25 years. In September 2021, he sought accommodations due to his objections to the city’s employee coronavirus vaccination mandate and the alternative of weekly testing, which involved giving saliva samples, the suit states.
Groves’ faith does not allow him to give samples of his body, the complaint further states.
In June 2022, Groves’ suit says, he emailed the city’s in-house attorney and asked for accommodations, offering six alternatives for accommodation other than weekly saliva samples, according to the suit. The lawyer responded that the city had already replied to his request and told him that human resources was “following what the law provides,” the suit alleges.
Groves suit says he suffered severe stress and was forced to take a leave of absence that has caused him a loss of income and retirement benefits.
Groves alleges he was still on leave last November when the city lifted its vaccination and testing mandates, but failed to notify him or engage him in an interactive process that would enable him to return to work.