NC Deputy Suing on Religious Freedom Grounds After Being Fired For Refusing to Be Alone With Female Trainee

LEE COUNTY – Manuel Torres is a deputy with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. He is also an evangelical Christian, a deacon at East Sanford Baptist Church, and he takes his faith very seriously. It was in consideration of the latter that Torres, 51, refused to be alone with the female deputy, invoking the so-called “Billy Graham Rule,” a practice among some male evangelicals to avoid being alone with a woman they are not married to.

More recently the rule has been embodied by Vice President Mike Pence, who says he abides by the principle. It seems both respectful and beneficial in mitigating unjustified #metoo moments. The department didn’t think so, evidently, because Torres was fired for refusing orders. Now he is suing.

From the Charlotte Observer:

“In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in North Carolina federal court, the former deputy is now seeking more than $300,000 in damages for religious discrimination.

“Torres holds the strong and sincere religious belief that the Holy Bible prohibits him, as a married man, from being alone for extended periods with a female who is not his wife,” the suit states. […]

“The job duty of training female deputies, in such a manner, violates (Torres’) religious beliefs against being alone for periods of time with female(s) who is/are not his wife and leaving the appearance of sinful conduct on his part,” the suit states.

Torres said he asked for a religious accommodation that would exempt him from the training in July 2017, according to the lawsuit, but he said his sergeant ultimately denied the request. […]”

Torres also claims that his complaints irked the higher ups who then failed to respond to his calls for back up during a violent altercation. Ultimately, after complaining about religious discrimination too much, they fired him.

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The suit will test the extent of protections under the ‘Billy Graham rule’ and at what point religious exemptions necessitate an exemption from the job altogether.

Read more here.

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