San Juan Police Officer Ordered to Car Washing Assignment After Refusing to Pray

A police officer in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has filed a discrimination lawsuit against his department, according to a release from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Officer Alvin Marrero-Mendez alleges that his superior officer assigned him to wash cars and take phone messages after Marrero-Mendez refused to participate with other officers in a Christian prayer session.

“When Department supervisors engage in these unconstitutional activities, they subject the officers under their command to unwelcome indoctrination and religious messages, creating a tense and hostile work environment and harming the community as a whole by sending a divisive message of religious favoritism for those who adhere to the supervisors’ preferred faith,” states a document released by the Puerto Rico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

This is a textbook case of religious discrimination—no employee should be forced to comply with religious dogma to earn their paycheck in the U.S. or U.S. Territories. Marrero-Mendez identifies himself as an active atheist.

“He values his right to adopt no religious beliefs as much as others surely value their right to follow a particular faith,” reads the document. “He is deeply offended by and objects to the Defendant’s official religious practices because they are religiously coercive in that they pressure him to participate in prayer and worship.”

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Tip of the week: The EEOC reports that complaints from workers regarding religion have more than doubled since 1997.

Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles religious discrimination attorneys