Sports Former Nationals scout sues team after being fired for...

Former Nationals scout sues team after being fired for not taking COVID-19 vaccine


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A former Washington Nationals scout who was fired after refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine has filed a workplace discrimination lawsuit against the franchise, claiming its vaccination policy was “needlessly harsh and inflexible” to certain employees.

Benny Gallo, described as a “devout Christian” in a suit filed against the Nationals in US District Court in the District of Columbia, is seeking to have his employment reinstated, backpay awarded, and restitution for the “malicious deprivation of his rights” after his September 2021 firing.

In August 2021, employees were informed they must present proof of full vaccination by September 26 or face termination. A number of non-compliant baseball operations staffers were fired or left the franchise, including veteran baseball man Bob Boonean advisor to general manager Mike Rizzo.

Two former minor league coaches, Brad Holman and Larry Pardo, told the Washington Post in September they planned to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over their dismissal.

Nationals players, along with all major leaguers on 40-man rosters, are not required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine because it has not been collectively bargained, but the MLB Players’ Association has urged players to get vaccinated and Major League Baseball in 2021 loosened restrictions on clubs with at least 75% of Tier 1 personnel vaccinated.

Some individual clubs, such as the Nationals and Houston Astros, opted for policies that required vaccination for all club employees, even those not around the major league team in a regular capacity.

The Nationals did not return a request for comment.

In Gallo’s suit, the former area scouting supervisor who covered Southern California and Hawaii, says he was willing to adhere to regular COVID-19 testing and wear masks in appropriate areas to mitigate the disease while not getting vaccinated. He also said the nature of his work – largely outside, and increasingly in a virtual fashion – rendered the COVID-19 vaccine at least partially unnecessary. Gallo also said a previous COVID-19 infection left him with protective antibodies.

Gallo, a nine-year employee of the Nationals, claims the club did not adhere to “its obligations under civil rights laws to accommodate Mr. Gallo’s religious beliefs.”

“Mr. Gallo is a devout Christian,” the lawsuit states, “who believes that his body is created by God, a gift he must steward well by taking good care of his health. As part of his religious beliefs, he objects to all vaccinations, and has not received a

vaccination since his childhood. Upon hearing about Defendant’s Vaccination

Policy, Mr. Gallo immediately filed a form request for a religious exemption by

email. “

On Aug. 27, two days after a hearing with human resources officers, the club, according to the suit, informed Gallo that “continued performance of your duties without being vaccinated will pose an unacceptable risk to the health of company employees (including you), customers, visitors, and others with whom you are required to interact in connection with your job duties. ” The club placed him on administrative leave Sept. 1 while noting he could continue to be employed if he received a shot.

Gallo, via attorney Charles LiMandri, had sent an email to Nationals HR officers noting his “extreme pro-life beliefs” would preclude him accepting a vaccine that they purported contained aborted fetuses.

Multiple studies suggest COVID-19 vaccines do not contain fetal cell lines.

Gallo’s suit was filed by attorneys for the Thomas More Society, which purports to “restore respect in law for life, family, religious liberty, and election integrity.”

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