A police chief in Louisiana is being sued yet again for allegedly forcing his religious beliefs on officers.
A second Port Allen police officer has filed a lawsuit against Chief Esdron Brown, who is accused of pushing his religious beliefs in required meetings and appealing to “God’s will” to justify his actions.
Robert Cannon Jr., who resigned from the city’s department in April, filed a federal civil rights case against the Port Allen Police Department last week, alleging the chief’s repeated mention of religion and religious-focused meetings created a hostile work environment. Cannon also asserts the chief declined to comply with a reasonable medical accommodation for him during his patrols, an alleged violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In June, another former officer, Patrick Marshall, filed a federal civil rights case against the Port Allen Police Department and Brown, claiming Brown tried to force him to attend those mandatory religious counseling meetings, and when the officer refused, Brown retaliated with disciplinary actions that included threats of suspension or job termination. Marshall resigned from the city’s police force in November 2017.
Cannon’s lawsuit alleges a pastor conducted the mandatory monthly meetings, where “all police officers in attendance were required to pray.”
He also asserted that Brown often cited God in inappropriate ways with his employees. The lawsuit alleges that in 2016 when Cannon spoke with Brown about his child’s illness, Brown blamed Cannon and his lack of faith.
“You’re not walking in God’s perfect purpose like I am and … it’s your fault and (your) actions that is causing this, you need to submit to [God’s] authority,” the lawsuit claims Brown said. In an interview Tuesday, Cannon would not say how he had recorded Brown’s statements from that time, but stood by their accuracy.
One lawsuit, some may write off as a potential misunderstanding or a he-said-he-said. But two lawsuits reporting the exact same unlawful behavior (and recording the statements)? Now it’s harder to ignore.
You can’t blame a lack of belief in God for all the bad things others experience, then be a cause of some of those bad things by retaliating against your employees. You also can’t force officers of a government organization, like a police department in Louisiana, to adopt your faith.
Nor can you promote people just because you think God told you to, but it appears as though that’s what this captain actually did.
The lawsuit also alleges Brown improperly promoted an officer to a new rank despite not meeting the service requirements because “God told him to.” When Cannon asked Brown about the decision, the chief said, “God said promote him anyway so I did,” the lawsuit alleges.
Cannon said in an interview Tuesday that he does identify as a Christian, but the way the chief used religion was unacceptable and imposing.
It tells you a lot that this is a Christian bringing the lawsuit against his Christian boss. Let’s hope the Christian who respects church/state separation wins this battle in court.
(Screenshot via WAFB. Thanks to Mark for the link)