WASHINGTON - A longtime Major League Baseball scout is suing the Washington Nationals for being fired after refusing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine because of religious objections he raised, according to his attorneys.
The complaint, filed Wednesday in federal court, says that Bernard "Benny" Gallo was terminated in late August 2021 after being denied a religious exemption by the baseball club. Gallo is seeking to have his firing reversed, his employment reinstated, backpay awarded, and restitution for the malicious deprivation of his rights.
According to Gallo's attorney, he worked for the Nationals for about 10 years. They say the firing caused Gallo to lose his livelihood as a baseball scout and his elected position as Vice President of the Southern California Scouts Association.
Gallo's attorneys believe that the Nationals did not fairly enforce it's mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, and ignored Gallo's request to get a religious exemption.
"The dismissal of Mr. Gallo and the denial of his request for a religious exemption is discriminatory and unlawful," detailed Charles LiMandri, an attorney for Gallo. "The Nationals continued to employ others - including another scout - who requested and received similar accommodations for medical reasons. In addition, the accommodation Mr. Gallo sought was the same set of practices the Nationals had in place for him for over a year under the COVID-19 pandemic, both before and after vaccines became available. The Nationals did not, and cannot, show why continuing to do what they had already been doing was an undue hardship."
The filing says that Gallo wrote in his request to the team that, "receiving the COVID-19 vaccination would violate my sincerely held religious beliefs, practices and/or observances." He further explained in the request that, "in prayer I feel my Lord and Saviour is giving me the freedom to make a choice concerning my body."
As an alternative to the vaccination, Gallo expressed his willingness to wear a mask when needed and get tested weekly.
You can read the full complaint here.