FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 15, 2022
UMLC Brings Lawsuit Against Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis for Religious Discrimination
Lawsuit alleges that the Bank illegally discriminated against and terminated a former employee because of his sincere religious objections to the COVID-19 vaccine
Minneapolis, MN – Today, the Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC) announced the filing of a new lawsuit in the United States District Court of Minnesota against the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis on behalf of Officer Rodney Maki, a nearly twenty-four-year law-enforcement employee of the bank. The Bank fired Maki in January 2022 because of Maki’s religious objections to the COVID-19 vaccine.
In July 2021, the Bank announced that it would require employees to receive one of the available vaccines against COVID-19 as a condition of continuing employment. Initially, the Bank granted Officer Maki a religious exemption, then reversed the accommodation. The Bank eventually put Officer Maki on unpaid leave before terminating his employment.
The lawsuit outlines the Bank’s violations of the law under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs.
“Federal law protects employees against discrimination based on their sincere religious beliefs. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis violated Officer Maki’s rights by forcing him to get the vaccine or be fired, despite his willingness to mask, physically distance, and test frequently for COVID-19,” said James Dickey, Senior Trial Counsel for UMLC. “This irrational religious discrimination will not hold up in federal court.”
Recently, courts across the country have ordered employers to reinstate workers fired over vaccine mandates and approved major class-action settlements over these unlawful terminations, and major companies are dropping vaccine requirements. Officer Maki and James Dickey spoke with Liz Collin of Alpha News back in March 2022 when UMLC demanded that the Bank reverse its unlawful treatment of Officer Maki.