Despite the fact that the religious beliefs and religious practices of Jehovah's Witnesses make it extremely difficult for Jehovah's Witness Employees to interact with non-JW co-workers and supervisors in regular 8/40 jobs, a significant number of Jehovah's Witnesses are and have been pursuing careers as firefighters and EMS personnel. The reason for such is possibly due to the fact that employment in law enforcement is discouraged within the WatchTower Cult, so the Fire Department is the next best alternative for Jehovah's Witnesses "cut from that kind of cloth".
Site visitors interested in this particular topic should not leave our website without also visiting our webpages dealing with the topics of "patriotism" and "holidays", since those issues also arise with firefighters and EMS personnel.
The following excerpt (edited) comes from the Daily Press, March 23, 1996. We post this for the benefit of readers who are Elders, Ministerial Servants, and just regular Jehovah's Witnesses, so that they may somewhat understand the "fraternity" that exists between their fellow Jehovah's Witnesses who are firefighters and their fellow firefighters. Non-JWs should understand that the WatchTower Cult brainwashes its members to believe that all outsiders are "evil", and should be avoided as much as possible.
LAST ALARM CALLS VETERAN
The white cross made of flowers looked oddly clean against the backdrop of soot-blackened walls. Behind the makeshift memorial at the fire-gutted auto parts store in Chesapeake, workers also in white searched through ashes four days cold. Had Frank Young seen the scene, he likely would have captured the image forever in a photograph.
Instead, six miles away, more than 700 firefighters from the United States and Canada gathered outside a small church [Frank] Young helped rebuild to mourn him as one of the first Chesapeake firefighters killed in the line of duty in more than 20 years. Firefighter specialists [Frank] Young, 38, and John R. Hudgins Jr., 32, (MORMON) were among the first to answer the fire call Monday at an auto parts store near the Chesapeake-Virginia Beach city line. Both were killed when the store's roof caved in on top of them.
On Friday morning, [Frank] Young went on what in firefighters' tradition is known as his last alarm. At a brief and simple service at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses on Oak Grove Road in Chesapeake, [Frank] Young's wooden coffin arrived atop black-draped Chesapeake Fire Engine 3. The hall was too small to hold but a few family and friends, so more than 700 firefighters, many in formal uniforms and all with black tape across their badges, stood at attention in the cold wind outside. Inside the hall, Young was praised as a man who put in as many hours each week working with his brother firefighters as he did working with his brother Jehovah's Witnesses. As members of a firefighters' honor guard wiped away tears, firefighters from Young's station lifted his coffin above their heads to place him again on Engine 3 to take his last ride.
The coffin finally in place, four of his fellow station firefighters stood on the back of the engine, while three took their places atop and three more inside. There they stood in honor of their fallen comrade as the engine wended its way through Chesapeake and Virginia Beach as part of a five-mile-long procession of firetrucks, ambulances, medic vans, hazardous-material trucks and limousines. The eight-mile trip from the church to Rosewood Cemetery in Virginia Beach, where 300 more firefighters waited, would take almost two hours. At Orchard Shopping Center near the church, and again at the cemetery entrance, ladder trucks extended to form arches through which the procession went. ...
[Frank] Young had responded to hundreds of fires in his 15 years with the Chesapeake Fire Department. Young had a reputation as a ''fire buff,'' responding to fires even when he was off duty, most of the time to photograph their awesome power and deadly beauty. On Friday, impressive also was the image of firefighters standing shoulder to shoulder, arms raised in salute as Young's coffin was lifted off the fire engine. The force included firefighters from all across the United States and Canada, including a contingent from Oklahoma City, where firefighters from Chesapeake responded in the aftermath of last April's bombing.
As the firefighters waited at the service and later at the cemetery, they struggled to explain why they cared so much for a firefighter they had never met. ''You have to understand we live together for 24 hours a day,'' said Charles Buss, who flew in from Fond-du-lac, Wis., for the funeral. ''We actually spend more time with firefighters than we do with our families,'' said ... district president of the International Association of Firefighters, which represents more than 225,000 firefighters worldwide. The deaths of Young and Hudgins represents a wake-up call to all firefighters, said Lt. Ray Bristow, from the Salem, Va., fire department. ''It pulls you right back into reality right quick,'" said Bristow, a former Chesapeake firefighter. "There's just one routine response you might not walk away from."
All 319 Chesapeake firefighters were at Young's funeral. They were replaced on duty Friday by firefighters from the Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and other area departments. "Taps" was played slowly Friday as the last salute was given. ...
Funeral services for firefighter John R. Hudgins Jr. will be conducted at 11 a.m. today at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, ... . The family has requested a private burial service.
JUSTIN REED v. FAIRFAX COUNTY FIRE & RESCUE DEPARTMENT was a 2018-20 Virginia federal employment discrimination lawsuit filed by a 30s male African-American Jehovah's Witness EMS firefighter named Justin Reed, previously of northeast Ohio.
Justin Reed was hired in September 2012, and after academy training received his first assignment in March 2013. Reed's first transfer came three months later in June 2013. In August 2014, Reed received an annual performance evaluation in which four superiors all noted some difficulty with Reed's performance and ability to accept feedback. Reed was issued a Performance Deficiencies and Improvement Plan in October 2014, but Reed twice refused to sign it.
Justin Reed was transferred again in November 2015. During that assignment, the station captain had a "heated exchange with Reed on an occasion when Reed failed to check the blood pressure of a patient on an ALS medical call". After that exchange, the station captain "coached Reed regarding his defensiveness and inability to accept correction".
In February 2018, Justin Reed sought emergency medical attention after returning from a vacation in Bali with a suspicious rash, which Reed for unknown reasons suspected might be MeRSA. Although the emergency physician did not believe the rash to be MeRSA, Reed received a prescription. Reed filled the prescription but did not take the medication, which extremely concerned Reed's shiftmates. Reed was blamed for disrupting the station. A superior resorted to sending a photo of the exposed rash to the Public Safety Occupational Health Center, which cleared Reed to stay at work if the rash was "dry, clean, and covered", and Reed initially complied. However, Reed became frustrated for being blamed for the disruption and stated that he was going home on sick leave. Reed left the fire station without securing express approval to leave work mid-shift, and without signing out of the log book.
As a result of Reed's unexpected departure mid-shift, Engine 434 "scratched" on an emergency call, leaving Medic 434 without the engine to block and control traffic. Reed's superiors began an investigation. On 2/19/2018, Reed "abruptly ended" a telephone call with a Captain shortly after learning of the escalation. On 2/22/2018, Reed had a telephone conversation with another superior who informed Reed that he would be reprimanded. That telephone conversation was also contentious and "cut short" by Reed. Reed's captain discussed Reed's behavior with him again when he returned to work several days later. Reed was ultimately issued an oral reprimand for his conduct related to the events of February 2018.
In late April 2018, Reed sustained a work-related injury and was put on light duty. Reed returned to full duty in June 2018. On the FOURTH OF JULY, 2018, Reed arrived at work at 6:15 AM, and thereafter learned of an invitation from a local Boy Scout troop to attend a flag raising ceremony and pancake breakfast that morning at a nearby Church of Latter-Day Saints. Reed informed his captain that his religious beliefs prevented his participation in the event. Reed's captain told Reed that he would still have to accompany his shiftmates to the event. Other than the shift lineup, Reed did not engage in other FRD tasks or conversations with shiftmates or superiors before departing for the flag raising ceremony. Instead, Reed texted his friend and his wife on his personal phone, including telling his wife, "there's going to be drama". Thereafter, Reed rode silently to the ceremony in Engine 434. Ultimately, Engine 434 and the rest of the FRD shift arrived late at the Church, and thus missed the flag raising ceremony in its entirety. Reed was unaware of that fact, because Reed remained in Engine 434 and never spoke with anyone from the community, or FRD, until their return to the station.
Later that same July 4 morning, during the end of an emergency call, Reed and a coworker were verbally reprimanded by a superior for failing to return to service quickly enough. While Reed's coworker apologized, Reed allegedly responded inappropriately. On the way back to the station, Reed stated that he was going home on sick leave. On arrival at the station, Reed left without discussing the matter with anyone. Efforts had to be made to find a replacement for Reed for the remainder of his shift, but Engine 434 remained out of service for approximately 1.5 hours. An investigation was begun into Reed's departure as well as Reed's past performance more generally.
On July 6, 2018, Justin Reed filed a racial and religious discrimination complaint with the Fairfax OHREP. On August 21, 2018, OHREP prepared a detailed report stating that the allegation of religious discrimination was not substantiated. (Racial????)
On September 12, 2018, Reed received a written reprimand addressing the events during/after the aforementioned emergency call on July 4, 2018, including raising his voice, engaging in a verbal altercation with a superior, exhibiting disrespect to his Captain, stomping his feet, punching department equipment, and abruptly leaving work mid-shift without first securing approval to do so. None of that reprimand referred to anything that had occurred earlier that same day at the church.
In October 2018, Reed received a positive grade during his annual performance evaluation. In December 2018, Reed failed the promotional and proficiency examination for the master technician rank. (Reed also failed the exam for the position of "Lieutenant", but the date is unknown.)
In November 2018, Justin Reed filed this federal lawsuit. Reed filed an Amended Complaint in February 2019, which alleged religious discrimination due to failed "accommodation" regarding Reed's religious beliefs during the "missed" flag-raising ceremony at the Church of Latter-Day Saints on the Fourth of July in 2018, and "retaliation" in the form of the September 2018 written reprimand. In January 2020, the USDC issued a Summary Judgement in favor of the defendant Fire Department.
In July 2019, the last dozen or so of loyal, patriotic Americans left living in Baltimore County, Maryland, protested vehemently on social media after learning that THREE of the 26 graduates in Baltimore County Fire Department's 113th recruit class REFUSED to salute the American Flag during the playing of the National Anthem during graduation ceremonies. Not surprisingly, BCFD's spokeswoman, Elise Armacost, quickly came to the defense of the department and its three new Jehovah's Witness firefighters:
"We are aware of concerns about three recruits who stood but did not salute during the National Anthem during tonight's 113th Recruit Class graduation ceremony. These new BCoFD members are Jehovah's Witnesses, whose faith prohibits displays of national allegiance. They are successful graduates with a commitment to public service. BCoFD respects members of all faiths, as well as the Constitution's right to free speech. We congratulate them on their accomplishments and look forward for their service to Baltimore County. EA"
In September 2016, WatchTower Society Missionary and Jehovah's Witness Minister, Dimitris Allen Fotopoulos, age 40, single?, of Dickson, Tennessee, was killed in a vehicle accident in the central American country of Honduras while working in that foreign country as a representative of the WatchTower Cult.
Dimitris A. Fotopoulos, aka Dimitris Fotopoulos, aka Dimitrius Fotopoulos, aka Jimmy Fotopoulos, aka J. D. Fotopoulos, was employed secularly as a Paramedic with the Franklin, Tennessee Fire Department. Fotopoulos's "anti-American" WatchTower Cult beliefs and practices apparently caused no difficulties with his supervisors or co-workers given their response to his death. Officials of the Franklin, Tennessee Fire Department, as well as officials with the Franklin, Tennessee city and county governments, declared this person whom had laid down his life in a foreign country for the benefit of the WatchTower Cult to be an AMERICAN HERO.
Fire Chief Rocky Garzarek and Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Johnson reportedly accompanied Jehovah's Witness Minister and brother, Johnathan Fotopoulos, of Detroit, Michigan, to Honduras to recover the corpse of Dimitris Allen Fotoploulos. One media report insinuates that there also may have been other WatchTower Cult representatives in that travel party. Such also raises questions as to whom paid the travel expenses for Fire Chief Rocky Garzarek, Deputy Fire Chief Glenn Johnson, Johnathan Fotopoulos, and other possible members of that travel party? Whom paid for the embalming of the corpse, and other associated expenses in Honduras? Whom paid for the return of the corpse back to the United States?
Interestingly, "someone" arranged for a memorial ceremony for Dimitris Fotopoulos to be hosted by an unidentified Honduras Fire Department while the travel party was in Honduras. One can only wonder whether Dimitris Fotopoulos's purpose for being in Honduras, as well as his activities, were accurately portrayed to Honduras government officials and officials and members of that fire department? Honduras and other central American countries have not always been welcoming to missionaries of the WatchTower Cult. In fact, it would not be an unreasonable waste of time to make certain that Fotopoulos's death actually was "accidental".
On arrival at Nashville's airport, Franklin Fire Ladder 8, along with other Franklin fire and police escorts, were all waiting to escort the corpse back to Franklin Fire Station 8. Firefighters and EMS personnel from a number of middle Tennessee departments lined overpasses on I-65 to pay tribute as the motorcade passed. One hundred people lined the road in front of Fire Station 8 to show their respects. A candlelight vigil was held later that same evening.
Two days later, a second public memorial service was held at Jamison Hall in Franklin, Tennessee, where once again Franklin city and county officials, and firefighters and EMS personnel from across middle Tennessee and the greater Nashville area, gathered to honor this AMERICAN HERO who died in a foreign country while working there on behalf of the WatchTower Cult.
Later that same day, yet another memorial service was conducted for Jehovah's Witness Minister Dimitrius Fotopoulos at his Dickson, Tennessee Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. One can only speculate how the anti-government officiants handled that Kingdom Hall funeral given that many government and fire department officials must have been in attendance. Our guess is that the WatchTower Society sent in its "Circuit Overseer" to make sure the local chuckleheads did not muck this up.
JIMMIE KNIGHT v. CITY OF BENTON HARBOR, MICHIGAN, ET AL is an ongoing 2014-16 employment discrimination federal lawsuit filed by one of Benton Harbor, Michigan's most prominent Jehovah's Witness Elders, and involves an African-American Supervisor Defendant who was reared as a Jehovah's Witness, but is now a Christian Minister. A 2014 state incorporation filing for the Benton Harbor Michigan Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses lists "Jimmie Knight" as the principle "Agent". An old 1968 incorporation filing for the Benton Harbor Michigan Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses lists "Jimmie Knight Jr." as its principle "Agent". Thus, the "Jimmie Knight" who is the plaintiff in this lawsuit appears to be the son of Benton Harbor's previous most prominent JW Elder.
According to an article published in October 2015, which is partially based on city records it obtained via a FOIA request, THE HERALD-PALLADIUM, alleges that Jimmie Knight, age 37, was fired from his position as a FIREFIGHTER for "removing" city property and "lying" to Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis, who acknowledges being reared as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. According to city records, when Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis sought to review files belonging to the City's former Firefighters' Union, which had been decertified in 2013, McGinnis discovered that the files were missing from the Watch office. McGinnis then reviewed surveillance footage which showed Jimmie Knight filling two garbage bags with files from the filing cabinet of the former union, removing them from the building, and then putting them in his own automobile. When McGinnis asked Knight to return the files, Knight allegedly only returned one bag. McGinnis retrieved the second bag out of Knight's locked trunk while Knight was on a fire call. The City report states that the files contained personnel information from current and past employees, along with old Union info.
Jimmie Knight's lawsuit denies many of the claims in the aforementioned City reports, and alleges that he was wrongfully fired in November 2014 in retaliation for raising concerns about fire safety policy and training. Knight filed a complaint about training and equipment deficiencies with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration on 11-14-14, was suspended a few hours later, and was terminated on 11-18-14. Knight's lawsuit seeks that Knight, who had been employed as a city firefighter since May 2005, be reinstated with the Fire Department and that he be awarded back pay and damages. Outcome pending.
Jimmie Knight reportedly also filed a complaint with the EEOC in 2014 which alleged religious discrimination. The EEOC decided in July 2015 not to pursue Knight's claims and issued Knight a Right-To-Sue Letter.
RAYMOND C. POUNCEY v. TOWN OF HAMDEN CONNECTICUT is an ongoing 2014-18 Connecticut employment discrimination lawsuit filed by an African-American Jehovah's Witness male named Raymond C. Pouncey, Sr., age 54, of Killingworth, Connecticut. Raymond Pouncey has been employed with the Hamden Fire Department since September 1997.
Although being a Jehovah's Witness prior to his employment, Pouncey raised no issues with the Hamden Fire Department until May 2000, when Pouncey refused to march alongside his fellow firefighters in Hamden's Memorial Day parade. Although Pouncey was suspended without pay for one day, Pouncey contacted the ACLU, grieved his suspension, and prevailed. At some point thereafter, Pouncey refused his turn at raising and lowering the American Flag at his assigned Station. Pouncey alleges that some of his WatchTower literature went missing soon thereafter. (Unknown where was such literature that it was accessible by co-workers.) Pouncey also alleges that small American Flags were thereafter somehow inserted into his Station mailbox. The first of Pouncey's ten station transfers occurred soon thereafter. Click above link to read all the "stuff" that has been alleged to have occurred between 2000 and 2015. Here is additional information regarding the 2012 "mannequin incident", after which Pouncey had been "disciplined" by the Hamden Fire Department.
After its thorough investigation, the EEOC issued to Pouncey a Right-To-Sue Letter rather than prosecute Pouncey's claims itself. Represented by an ACLU attorney, Ray Pouncey's 154 page complaint named as defendants four HFD supervisors in addition to the Town, and alleged various and multiple instances of religious discrimination between 2000 and 2015. Pouncey's lawsuit alleged five counts of religious discrimination and the creation of a hostile work environment; five counts of retaliation; five counts of intentional infliction of emotional distress; and five counts of negligent infliction of emotional distress.
In November 2017, the USDC summarily dismissed all of Pouncey's claims and defendants except for Pouncey's hostile work environment claim against the Town of Hamden. Pending.
UNITED STATES v. BRIAN C. WILKERSON was a 2009-10 Massachusetts federal prosecution of an African-American Jehovah's Witness Firefighter named Brian Wilkerson, of Springfield, Massachusetts. Brian Wilkerson had worked as a Springfield Mass firefighter for 11 years prior to being arrested at department headquarters in June 2009. Brian Wilkerson was accused of both receiving and viewing CHILD PORNOGRAPHY at both his home and while at work on the station's computer -- from August 2005 through September 2008. In October 2009, Wilkerson pled guilty to four counts of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography, and was sentenced to five years in prison.
EEOC v. COMMUNITY TRANSPORT SERVICES was a 2009-11 South Carolina federal court case. Suing on behalf of a former female Jehovah's Witness Employee, named Dale Morant, E.E.O.C. alleged that in 2006 that Community Transport Services LLC, a regional ambulance service, fired the female E.M.T. after she refused to hand out advertising materials as a company representative at the Prince of Orange Mall, in Orangeburg, S.C, because a Halloween carnival was then being held at the Mall. The EEOC lawsuit sought back pay, reinstatement, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for Dale Morant. EEOC also asked the court to order the company to stop discriminating against employees. Dale Morant had initially filed a complaint with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC), which investigates such allegations for violations of state law. It is not known whether Dale Morant attempted to sue CTS under state laws.
Community Transport Services LLC was sold to a competitor in November 2007, yet the EEOC still went after the former owner for money. Possibly indicating that that former owner never responded to this lawsuit, in September 2011, the USDC issued a DEFAULT JUDGMENT awarding Dale Morant $23,435.02 as back pay and $10,000.00 as compensatory damages for Dale Morant's "emotional distress". Our guess is that this judgment has never been collected.
We were hoping that this lawsuit would go to trial. There was no reported indication that CTS had asked Morant to dress-up or to do anything else which would be considered participation in the Halloween carnival. Apparently, CTS simply was taking advantage of the Mall event to promote its services to the local community. We were hoping that CTS's attorney would ask Dale Morant if she would have refused to travel to the Mall and treat a mall employee or mall patron who was injured or became ill at the Mall during the Halloween carnival. We were hoping that CTS's attorney would ask Dale Morant if Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to shop at Malls or other retail stores during holiday seasons when Malls are decorated for Halloween and other holidays.
ROBERTA DEBONO ET AL v. MEDFORD VOLUNTEER AMBULANCE INC was a 2007 New York federal lawsuit in which a female Jehovah's Witness named Roberta DeBono, and two other former Long Island, New York, emergency medical service volunteers, sued the Medford Volunteer Ambulance Company for $60,000,000.00, alleging sexual, racial, and religious discrimination. Outcome unknown.
ANDERSON v. CITY OF TAYLOR was a 2005-7 Michigan federal court case which included a Jehovah's Witness firefighter, named Shannon Threlkeld, amongst the Plaintiff city firefighters who sued their employer city government, because a newly instituted wellness program included a mandatory "pin prick" blood draw for the purposes of a blood lipids test. The firefighters claimed that the mandatory "pin prick" blood draw violated their constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure, and the Michigan union-friendly federal court agreed. For purposes of this website, we are only interested in the Jehovah's Witness firefighter's claim that the mandatory "pin prick" blood draw violated his religious beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness. From the limited info provided by one USDC opinion, it appears that the City hired expert witness Joel Elliot to refute the testimony of Shannon Threlkeld.
Non-JW readers should be aware that the Watchtower Society's prohibition against donating blood and accepting blood transfusions has NEVER included a prohibition against blood draws intended for medical testing. However, that has not stopped certain individuals from attempting to use the non-JW public's ignorance about WatchTower Doctrine to avoid being the subject of a mandatory blood draw. There are multiple instances on record of individuals arrested for DUI or DWI who have claimed to be Jehovah's Witnesses, and then refused blood testing due to their alleged religious beliefs. Other recurring scenarios include state and federal prisoners attempting to avoid DNA, drug, and other type testings. Interested persons should know that local Jehovah's Witness Elders have been willing to testify in court as experts to dispute any such claim. One or more federal courts have rejected deviating personal religious belief based off the actual Watchtower teaching as a reason to avoid certain mandatory testing.
ARDRA YOUNG v. DETROIT FIRE DEPT ET AL and MICHIGAN v. ARDRA YOUNG were two 1996-2000 Michigan court cases. An African-American Jehovah's Witness, named Ardra Young, was a City of Detroit firefighter, who alleged that the Detroit Fire Department and one or more of his white supervisors had discriminated against him because of his race. The outcome of Ardra Young's employment discrimination lawsuit is unknown, because, before it could be settled or litigated, Ardra Young murdered his wife and teenage son.
In February 1997, Ardra Young arranged a late night meeting with his estranged JW Wife and JW Son at a Detroit municipal park. Young shot both his wife and his son in the back of their heads, and then fled to the home of his girlfriend in Illinois. Young returned to Detroit the next day, and without even asking to see his son, who was still alive on life-support, Young ordered doctors at Grace Hospital to turn off the life-support systems -- supposedly due to his WatchTower beliefs. After Young's alibi did not stand up to scrutiny, Young eventually confessed to police. Despite such, Young pled "not guilty" at trial. Young's defense team put on a vigorous defense. However, Young was found guilty, and sentenced to concurrent life terms. Young's defense team vigorously pursued appeals, possibly due to Young's pending employment discrimination lawsuit and the large settlement or judgment that Young's attorneys were anticipating from such. Amusingly, Young's attorneys unsuccessfully requested a new trial based on "newly discovered evidence", which included a letter which had been mailed to the Detroit Fire Department, which had been signed, "White Fire Fighters Association", which claimed that they actually had killed Young's wife and son -- not Ardra Young. Between 2000 and 2005, Ardra Young started filing his own habeas corpus actions in federal court. All have been denied thus far.
On January 2, 2004, a Jehovah's Witness, named Judy Strege, 54, who was employed at the Gilbert Arizona Fire Department as a receptionist, sent an email to Chandler Arizona Mayor Boyd Dunn from her town office and containing her town phone number. It read, in part, "I appreciate your taking time to listen to me and take the Awake and Watchtower magazines from me. ... Please feel free to contact me if you would like questions answered about Jehovah's Witnesses, their ministry in the community or their beliefs." Mayor Dunn said he took no offense, but the religious e-mail he got from Judy Strege violated the City of Gilbert's email policy, which says the town's system should be used only "to facilitate official business ... and is not a private communication medium." Apparently, Strege, who was a Chandler resident, had been out "witnessing" on New Years Day, and had approached Mayor Dunn with a solicitation for him to accept from her copies of the WatchTower and Awake magazines while the Mayor was doing a television interview in a parking lot (presumably outside City Hall). Gilbert Personnel Director Ann Moeding-Evans declined to publicly discuss the email, but stating, "It is a sensitive issue".
During the year 2000, the Florida news media repeatedly reported on the saga of a Jehovah's Witness Firefighter, named Barac Wimberly, who was eventually fired from the Pinellas Park Fire Department due to alleged poor job performance. Wimberly filed a religious discrimination claim with EEOC prior to his dismissal, but I don't know whether such was ever followed by a lawsuit in either state or federal court after Wimberly's termination. The charges and counter-charges are numerous, so I would recommend reading all the linked newspaper articles.
Some of the Department's allegations included: In 1999, Wimberly received a written reprimand for sleeping through a fire alarm, because Wimberly was wearing earplugs to drown out fellow firefighters' snoring. Soon after, he was reprimanded in writing and suspended for half of a 24-hour shift for leaving medical waste, such as needles and bandages, a blood pressure cuff, and other equipment, in someone's home after a medical call. Not long after, he slept through another alarm. Fire officials gave him a three-day suspension without pay that Wimberly appealed and had two days' pay restored. There are many more negatives in the linked newspaper articles.
Wimberly's charges of religious discrimination included: (1.) Co-workers often asked why Wimberly didn't celebrate holidays, such as Christmas. One acting supervisor allegedly asked Wimberly why he accepted a Christmas bonus if he didn't celebrate the holiday. (2.) Co-workers had joked about Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on doors -- calling them Saturday morning streetwalkers. (3.)After arguing with one firefighter/paramedic about his religion, the man asked Wimberly why Jehovah's Witnesses were coming to his door. He also told Wimberly that he disagreed with Jehovah's Witness' interpretation of the Bible. Shortly after, that co-worker allegedly began filing complaints against him that could not be substantiated. (4.) When Wimberly refused to take the Union Oath, as written, he was accused of elevating myself above everyone else, and attempting to get the oath changed. (5.) He declined to help decorate the fire truck during the winter holidays because of his religious beliefs. An acting supervisor "accused me of using my religion to get out of job duties. He told me to leave my religion at home." (6.) "I was written up for not being a team player, in part because I did not participate in the holiday activities. (7.) Wimberly concluded, "I believe if I were not a Jehovah's Witness, I would not be subjected to derogatory comments about my religion. I also believe that I am being harassed and subjected to disciplinary action because of my religious beliefs."
In response to Wimberly's charges against the Department, the Fire Chief pointed out that the Department currently already had two Jehovah's Witnesses employed, and both of those JWs held supervisory positions. In fact, the Chief pointed out that at the time that Wimberly was hired, Wimberly was the #1 applicant. All indicators had pointed to Wimberly being a rising star in the Department. However, the exact opposite occurred.
Even Wimberly acknowledged that his problems began soon after he was hired. Wimberly claimed that he was pressured into joining the Union, but Wimberly refused to join the Union because union activities would mean he would have to give up other "off-duty pursuits" -- i.e., door-to-door JW recruiting, etc. Thus, right off the bat, Wimberly fowled up the Department's 100%union participation, which made Wimberly an unpopular character.
After alleged repeated harassment and ridicule, Wimberly decided to join the Union in hopes that that would end his problems. Instead, joining the Union exacerbated Wimberly's problems. Why? Because Wimberely refused to take the Union Oath as it was written because of his WatchTower beliefs. Wimberly refused to swear his "allegiance" to the Union. So, Wimberly asked for and received permission to swear to an "altered version" of the Union's Oath. That simply Po'ed Wimberly's co-workers that much more, and they essentially had had all of the new recruit that they wanted. The following two years appeared to evidence that fact.
MARCELLUS HATCHER v. CITY OF PHILADELPHIA FIRE DEPARTMENT was a 1996?-2001? Pennsylvania worker's compensation case. In September 1998, a 46 year-old African-American Philadelphia paramedic, named Marty Hatcher, died from cirrhosis of the liver. Hatcher claimed that his liver disease had been contracted on-the-job, and he pursued worker's comp benefits to which he believed that he was entitled. After his death, his wife, Geneva Hatcher, continued to pursue worker's comp benefits. She claimed that her husband had died of liver failure attributed to Hepatitis C. The City claimed that "drinking", not Hepatitis C, caused Hatcher's cirrhosis. A judge ruled partially in Hatcher's favor, finding that the disease was job-related, but agreeing with the City that there was some question about what led to Hatcher's cirrhosis. Geneva Hatcher further claimed that Marty Hatcher was a devout Jehovah's Witness, who was not a drinker. [Hatcher may not have been a drinker, but I've known numerous "devout JWs" who drank like a fish.] Geneva Hatcher also claimed that Marcellus Hatcher was a "devout" Jehovah's Witness who was awaiting a LIVER TRANSPLANT at Georgetown Hospital in Washington D.C. at the time of his death. (We did not know that Georgetown Hospital performed so-called "bloodless" liver transplants in 1998. BTW, anyone stupid enough to believe that any hospital -- even in 2015 -- can perform a "bloodless' liver transplant has never cooked a piece of beef or pork liver.) As of 2000, Geneva Hatcher was continuing to pursue additional benefits, and as of March 2015, Geneva Hatcher was still doing media interviews lambasting the City of Philadelphia.
LISA M. JETER v. CITY OF PHILADELPHIA FIRE DEPARTMENT was a 2008-09 sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the African-American daughter of Marcellus Hatcher, who the City of Philadelphia had graciously hired into the Fire Department in 2005. Jeter accused her boss of "hitting on her constantly". That lawsuit was settled for $90,000.00, and notably, Jeter returned to work soon after having a baby.
LISA M. JETER v. CITY OF PHILADELPHIA FIRE DEPARTMENT was a 2012-14 gender discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit by Lisa Jeter in which she accused a fellow firefighter of throwing equipment towards her, and calling her a "bitch" and a "little girl". Then, there was a ruckus in the fire station after Jeter began storing her expressed breast milk in the station's common refrigerator. When that was stopped, Jeter started having her much older husband, Robert Edward Jeter, who is the Operations Officer at the Training Academy, bring the baby to the fire station where Jeter would nurse it. Jeter also complained of false accusations that she was sleeping around with other firefighters. Once again, the City of Philadelphia paid Jeter $90,000.00 to settle the case. However, this time, the settlement apparently called for Jeter to apply for some other city department other than the fire department. Jeter has yet to apply for any position which the city believes that she is qualified.
See also: ROBERT JETER v. ARMSTRONG WORLD INDUSTRIES, INC. ET AL.
ROBERT E. SHELTON v. VILLAGE OF EVENDALE OHIO was a 1992-3 Ohio court case in which an African-American Jehovah's Witness Firefighter named Robert Shelton was fired from the Evendale Fire Department in June 1992, and thereafter filed this lawsuit against the Village and its Fire Chief. Bob Shelton alleged religious discrimination, racial discrimination, and disability discrimination. Shelton also accused the Fire Chief of giving him a poor job performance evaluation to justify his firing. Outcome unknown.
In 1983, Fire Captain John Hall, of Watertown, New York, was selected to receive the American Legion's "Firefighter of the Year" award for having saved the life of a female during a fire. The award was pulled when Hall refused to participate in a parade that was part of the ceremony. Specifics are unknown, but I suspect that the award ceremony was held on one of the holidays. Fire Captain John Hall gave as an excuse that his Jehovah's Witness beliefs would not permit him to ride on a fire truck in a parade. The American Legion said: Fine. No parade. No award!
GARY BACHER v. CITY OF NORTH RIDGEVILLE was a 1975 Ohio state court case involving a Jehovah's Witness named Gary Bacher, who refused to raise the American Flag in front of the Ohio fire station where he was employed as a fireman. Bacher was employed in 1971, and regularly performed the flag raising duty when he was so assigned. However, when Bacher converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1974, he refused to raise the flag due to his new beliefs. After Bacher's third refusal, he was terminated. Supported by the ACLU, Bacher filed suit. The lower courts ruled against him, but the appellate court ruled: (1) Freedom to act on behalf on one's religious beliefs may not be curtailed absent a compelling state interest. (2) A city may not discharge a Jehovah's Witness from his employment as a fireman for his refusal to comply with regulations requiring him to raise the national flag, absent a showing that such refusal threatens the morale, efficiency, discipline, and authority of the fire department. Bacher was reinstated with full back pay.
LAWRENCE FOSTER v. CITY OF PHILADELPHIA was a 1973 Pennsylvania federal employment discrimination court case involving an African-American Jehovah's Witness Firefighter Trainee named Laurence Foster. Larry Foster, then age 24, was fired from the City of Philadelphia's Fire Department Training Academy in May 1973 after Larry Foster refused to participate in Flag raising/lowering ceremonies at the Training Academy. This lawsuit was settled in late 1973 for an undisclosed amount, reinstatement of Foster to his job with back pay, and Foster's exemption from having to salute or raise/lower the American Flag.
DAVID MITCHELL v. CITY OF PHILADELPHIA was a 1972-6 Pennsylvania federal employment discrimination court case involving a Jehovah's Witness named David Mitchell. Mitchell was fired after he refused to salute the American flag at a football game. The City was ordered to rehire Mitchell and pay him four years back pay. The City also agreed that Mitchell does not need to take blood transfusions if he gets sick.
Readers should understand that the WatchTower Society and its local Jehovah's Witness Congregations were much more strict about the Cult's theological interpretations back during the 1950s and 1960s given the proximity of WW2 and the Korean War, along with the WatchTower Cult's widely publicized court battles over military service, the Flag Salute, and other issues related to patriotism.
We thus found it quite INTERESTING when we discovered that in December 1959 a prominent BROOKLYN-BORN AND REARED Jehovah's Witness "Congregation Overseer" (Elder-Minister) named Edward E. Ahlf, by-then of Dutchess County, New York, was PUBLICLY ELECTED to the Board of Fire Commissioners in Stanfordville, New York. Previously, Edward Ahlf had served as the Chief of the Stanfordville Fire Department for a decade, which also was an "elected" position within the local fire department.
Edward Ahlf was employed as head of the local Farm Credit Service (later renamed Production Credit Service, and then Hudson Valley Farm Credit) which essentially was equivalent in community status to being a local Bank President. Edward Ahlf also was a member and elected Officer of multiple countywide and statewide civic and farm organizations in this rural farming area, and continuously participated in various community events and celebrations.
When the Millerton Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses was formed in 1962, Edward Ahlf was one of the three original corporate Trustees, and when the Millerton Congregation soon began to plan the construction of its own Kingdom Hall, Overseer Edward Ahlf was a member of the Building Committee. Typically, as many of such double-life Elders/Overseers do, Ahlf's wife and children were forced to "pioneer" to keep the WatchTower Cult off the family's back. As we point out elsewhere in our websites, all that is important inside the WatchTower Cult is "hours".
During those very same decades that Edward Ahlf, his wife, and his 4 sons and daughter were enjoying life -- both as prominent members of their local "worldly" community, and as prominent members of their local Jehovah's Witness community -- this Editor was a child being indoctrinated with WatchTower Cult theology that taught this Editor that having anything whatsoever to do with "the world" and its political, social, and civic organizations was reason to be rejected, punished, and destroyed by "Jehovah". While this Editor could not be a Boy Scout, or a member of my school's 4-H Club, or even Pep Club, or even accept a nomination as a Class officer, that Congregation Overseer and Congregation Trustee was an essential element of Dutchess County life as not only a member of multiple worldly organizations, but serving as an elected Officer in multiple worldly organizations.
Its rather obvious that if a Jehovah's Witness is a PRINCE in this world, the WatchTower Cult will not only look the other way with regard to that part of the JW's life, but will even appoint that JW as a PRINCE within the Cult's hierarchy if such possibly may be beneficial to the Cult. This is just one additional WatchTower Cult hypocrisy which this Editor is now privileged to publicize worldwide.
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