LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A judge has pared to a single claim a lawsuit filed by a former bus driver for the city of Montebello who had alleged he was a victim of religious discrimination after he was fired in 2021 for refusing to get a coronavirus vaccination because of his faith.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael L. Stern on Monday ruled that plaintiff Fernando Ramirez can move forward only with his claim the city was in violation of a memo of understanding with its mid-management employees because he did not receive a full hearing.
The judge dismissed Ramirez's causes of action for religious discrimination, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy.
Ramirez was hired by the city as a part-time bus driver in 2004 and was later promoted to a full-time driver and eventually a supervisor, according to his suit filed May 19, which also named as defendants City Manager Rene Bobadilla and Human Resources Director Nicholas Razo in the now-dismissed causes of action.
"With an iron boot, the city destroyed Ramirez's 17-year career and the sanctity of his personal life," the suit states.
In March 2020, the city designated Ramirez an essential worker, so he worked through the pandemic, the suit states.
In August 2021, the city announced a plan to enact a vaccine mandate for its employees that was implemented by Bobadilla, the suit states. The city distributed its written vaccine policy and its process for claiming a religious exemption and Ramirez filed the appropriate written application, the suit states.
"Ramirez said that he objected to the vaccines due to his sincere religious beliefs and specifically his interpretation of the bible," the suit states. "He also objected on the grounds that the vaccines were developed with the assistance of stems cells taken from aborted fetuses."
Before an interview with Razo, the human resources head told Ramirez that only 1% of requested religious objections to the vaccine mandate would be granted, the suit states.
"In short, the process was a pre-determined sham and regardless of the merits of his beliefs, Ramirez was never going to be granted an exemption because the decision was already made to deny nearly all exemption applications regardless of their merits...," the suit alleges.
When Ramirez reported to work in December 2021, he was escorted out of the building by security for failing to comply with the city's vaccine mandate and then fired later that month, according to the suit, which further states the plaintiff moved to Texas in the aftermath of what happened to his job in California.