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Lifeguard Sues Fire Department for Religious Discrimination Over Pride Flag

From City News Service

A longtime Los Angeles County Fire Department lifeguard has filed suit claiming that the county’s policy requiring him to raise the Pride Flag constitutes religious discrimination, according to court papers obtained today.

Capt. Jeffrey Little, who describes himself as a devout evangelical Christian who has worked for Los Angeles County for more than 22 years, stated in the lawsuit that he took down three Pride Flags at his workplace in Pacific Palisades last June hoisted in support of LGBTQ residents because he did not want to work “in these conditions.”

Last year, the county’s Board of Supervisors voted to require that many government buildings — including the facilities where Little worked at Will Rogers Beach, home to an LGBTQ-friendly section known as Ginger Rogers Beach — fly the Progress Pride Flag throughout June, which is Pride Month.

“The views commonly associated with the Progress Pride Flag on marriage, sex, and family are in direct conflict with Captain Little’s bona fide and sincerely held religious beliefs on the same subjects,” according to the suit filed in Los Angeles federal court. “His bona fide and sincerely held religious beliefs require him to reject those views.”

Little’s suit, which names the fire department and three chief officers in the lifeguard division as defendants, alleges that after he took down the flags, he was suspended from his role with the department’s background investigation unit, which investigates emergencies on the beach.

A representative for the L.A. County Fire Department, which oversees lifeguards, said the department cannot comment on personnel issues or any ongoing litigation.

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