EXCLUSIVE: Former Employee Sues Miami-Dade County for Violating Rights of Religion, Free Speech

3 months ago 21

'This increasing inclination of intolerance and censorship is unsafe to the endurance of a escaped nation'

A erstwhile worker of Miami-Dade County successful Florida is suing the county’s committee of commissioners aft helium says helium was fired implicit his Christian beliefs astir transgender ideology and his refusal to attend punitive “diversity training.”

John Labriola, who served arsenic a media adjutant for the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners from 2013 to 2021, wrote an sentiment portion that was included successful the March 2021 variation of Sophie’s Voice (pdf), a newsletter published by Sophie Publishing House Inc.

In the piece, Labriola expressed beardown absorption to the Equality Act, a measure passed by the U.S. House of Representatives successful February 2021 that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination connected the ground of sex, intersexual orientation, and sex identity.

The measure indispensable archetypal beryllium passed by the U.S. Senate earlier it tin scope the table of the president to beryllium vetoed oregon signed into law.

Labriola suggested the measure would “write transgenderism into law” and “require crossdressing men to beryllium allowed to usage women’s restrooms, locker rooms and ablution facilities and vie successful women’s sports, and unit doctors to execute intersexual mutilation surgeries astatine payer expense, portion simultaneously expanding payer backing of termination connected demand, forcing transgender indoctrination connected schoolchildren, and removing custody rights from parents who garbage to person their insignificant children acquisition ‘gender reassignment.'”

Labriola is being represented successful his suit (pdf) by Alexander Bumbu of Pacific Justice Institute, a California-based nonprofit ineligible defence organization.

The Backlash

On March 3, 2021, Maggie Fernandez, main of unit for Miami-Dade County Commissioner Eileen Higgins, forwarded an email (pdf) she received from “a acrophobic citizen” who came crossed the newsletter and recovered it offensive.

Erin New, manager of Miami-Dade County’s quality rights and just employment practices, besides received an email (pdf) from Orlando Gonzales, enforcement manager of activistic radical SAVE LGBTQ. Gonzales had work an nonfiction successful the Miami Herald astir Labriola’s portion and wrote to New, stating that Labriola “conducted himself successful mode that blatantly demonstrates his bias against LGBTQ people,” which made him “a information to the community” and “unfit for a relation successful authorities arsenic civilian servant.”

Gonzales past urged that the region “fully analyse this substance and subject Mr. Labriola by dismissing him from his role.”

The Epoch Times reached retired to Gonzales, who declined to comment.

The Discipline

In a bid of documents (pdf) obtained by The Epoch Times, the way of disciplinary actions against Labriola is laid out.

On March 5, 2021, a disciplinary enactment study was filed with a written reprimand against Labriola, successful which Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, seat of the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners, issued a three-day suspension without pay. Diaz besides ordered Labriola to “participate successful grooming regarding the County’s anti-discrimination policies.”

“You indispensable interaction the Human Resources Department wrong the adjacent 7 days to docket the training,” Diaz wrote. “I expect you to person completed this grooming wrong the adjacent 30 days.”

Through a bid of emails, Diaz’s main of staff, Isidoro R. Lopez, repeatedly instructed Labriola to docket and be the anti-discrimination grooming arsenic ordered by Diaz.

On March 24, 2021, Lopez sent an email, reiterating chronologically the database of orders Labriola had been given, specifically that helium had yet to comply with the mandate to be “sensitivity training.”

“If you bash not timely interaction Ms. Green [in the HR Department] successful the clip and successful the mode mandated by this nonstop order, you volition beryllium violating a nonstop bid and committing an enactment of insubordination among different violations which volition taxable you to subject up to and including dismissal from employment,” Lopez wrote.

Lopez besides sent an email to Diaz, stating that Labriola had not complied with the March 5 bid to docket the other training.

“It is my knowing that if helium complies connected time, helium tin proceed to work,” Lopez posited. “If helium does not comply by 4pm tomorrow, what should I do?”

Diaz replied, saying “if helium complies, past helium tin proceed to work. If helium does not comply by time astatine 4pm, delight nonstop him paperwork dismissing him from employment effectual instantly tomorrow.”

The Reminder

On March 27, 2021, Labriola confirmed to Lopez by email his receipt of her reminder.

“Please cognize that I find each of this highly distressing,” Labriola wrote, asking wherefore helium was “being harassed and discriminated against” for voicing his idiosyncratic spiritual beliefs successful what helium believed was a usurpation of the county’s quality rights and just employment practices and policies.

“Why americium I being singled retired for disciplinary enactment and remedial ‘sensitivity training’ arsenic punishment for exercising my close to explicit my views connected my backstage clip arsenic a backstage citizen?” Labriola asked. “Why is the County surrendering to the unjust demands of ideological extremists seeking to crush everyone who disagrees with projected authorities that galore Americans see severely detrimental to nationalist health, safety, payment and state of code and religion? Other than the tendency to placate extracurricular extremist unit groups, the County has not provided maine with immoderate different credible crushed for the subject nor identified immoderate circumstantial words successful my online published commentary which could person triggered this action.”

On March 29, 2021, Lopez told Labriola that his “claim of distress is self-imposed,” reiterating that each helium had to bash was interaction the quality resources section to docket and be “a virtual grooming league regarding County policy.”

“That was a elemental task that you were ordered to execute and yet you inactive person not complied,” she admonished. “The bid did not notation oregon request that you surrender your conscience oregon your beliefs arsenic you notation successful your email.”

“Once again,” she concluded. “I promote you to comply today.”

In an April 13, 2021, missive (pdf), Diaz informed Labriola that due to the fact that he’d refused to comply with the bid to docket the grooming session, helium was “hereby dismissed from County employment effectual immediately.”

Arleene Cuellar, Miami-Dade County’s quality resources (HR) director, sent a memo to New connected May 4, 2021, stating that the HR department’s reappraisal “did not find immoderate grounds to found that Mr. Labriola engaged successful immoderate harassing oregon discriminatory behaviour based connected immoderate protected diagnostic wrong the workplace.”

“However,” the study concludes, “the findings revealed that Mr. Labriola’s usage of highly inappropriate and violative connection successful the newsletter nonfiction did represent a usurpation of County policies, including Implementing Order 7-45 (pdf).”

The Rules and Policies

According to an April 28, 2021, memo (pdf) from Cuellar to her chap section directors, “Miami-Dade County is committed to ensuring inclusive programs, policies and employment practices for each of our employees and residents.”

“In bid to guarantee harmless and welcoming enactment environments for each of our employees,” the region “recently refreshed their worker grooming workshops, which are present presently disposable to each County employees and supervisors.” Topics specified arsenic “unconscious bias,” “racial bias,” and “LGBTQ+ sensitivity” are among those addressed successful the 7 workshops listed. Religious bias is not addressed.

According to the county’s rules (pdf), “that the worker has been blameworthy of behaviour unbecoming an worker of the County whether connected oregon disconnected duty, provided allegations shall beryllium circumstantial and shall picture the behaviour that is the ground of the charge” is listed among the rules for “Reasons for Dismissal, Demotions and Suspensions.”

But according to an overview of the county’s anti-discrimination policy, “religion” and “the workout of their law oregon statutory rights” are included among the “protected classes,” on with “sexual orientation” and “gender individuality oregon expression.”

However, Labriola’s attorneys contend that it was Miami-Dade County and the committee of commissioners who violated Labriola’s rights of speech, religion, and press, arsenic provided by Title 42 of the U.S. Constitution.

The Laws

Title 42 states that “Every idiosyncratic who … subjects, oregon causes to beryllium subjected, immoderate national of the United States oregon different idiosyncratic … the deprivation of immoderate rights, privileges, oregon immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall beryllium liable to the enactment injured successful an enactment astatine law.”

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that “Congress shall marque nary instrumentality respecting an constitution of religion, oregon prohibiting the escaped workout thereof; oregon abridging the state of speech, oregon of the press.”

In the suit (pdf), Labriola’s attorneys reason that “this lawsuit is overmuch bigger than Mr. Labriola. … This lawsuit is astir the County’s usage of its unsafe ‘mute’ fastener to soundlessness spiritual code that it doesn’t similar and to compel code that it does like. It is besides astir the County’s favoritism against 1 of its employees based connected religion, arsenic good arsenic astir the County’s nonaccomplishment to travel its ain policy.”

The Attorneys

According to Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), the effort to “punish employees moving for the authorities for code utilized disconnected hours connected a level unrelated to the government” is “a inclination crossed the nation.”

PJI specializes successful the defence of spiritual freedom, parental rights, and different civilian liberties.

Brad Dacus, President of Pacific Justice Institute. Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute. (Courtesy of Brad Dakus)

While the rules successful Miami-Dade County decree that region employees “found blameworthy of behaviour unbecoming, whether connected oregon disconnected duty” is simply a crushed for dismissal, demotion, oregon suspension, Dacus told The Epoch Times “that’s portion of the problem.”

He cited akin cases successful which his steadfast is presently involved. In Iowa, a authorities worker was fired for holding Bible survey classes addressing sexuality issues from a Biblical position during his disconnected hours. In Oregon, 2 teachers were fired for expressing interest with policies preventing them from notifying parents if their children were having sex dysphoria issues and for opposing a mandate to usage pronouns that went against their convictions and beliefs.

“We sued,” Dacus said. “We got their jobs backmost and present we’re suing for mislaid wages.”

According to Dacus this increasing inclination of intolerance and censorship is “dangerous to the endurance of a escaped federation and the continued relevance of our Constitution arsenic applied to our escaped code rights.”

“Without question, Miami-Dade County violated the First Amendment,” Dacus said successful an Oct. 3, 2022, PJI property merchandise (pdf) astir Labriola’s case. “Mr. Bumbu volition clasp the County accountable successful a tribunal of law.”

Alexander Bumbu, Staff Attorney astatine  Pacific Justice Institute. Alexander Bumbu, unit lawyer astatine Pacific Justice Institute. (Courtesy of Alexander Bumbu)

“This lawsuit is astir state of speech, state of religion and state of the press,” Alexander Bumbu told The Epoch Times, adding that we cannot person these freedoms “if the authorities punishes its employees for their usage of that state connected their ain clip and dime, particularly erstwhile those employees are debased ranking and person nary powerfulness to signifier authorities policy.”

“In this case,” Bumbu asserted, “Miami-Dade County’s actions jeopardized the core, Constitutional rights of each County worker by threatening them with termination for simply exercising those rights.”

The Training

According to the grooming module (pdf) for the “Overview of the County’s Anti-Discrimination Policy,” the stratagem is “to guarantee that each employees are capable to bask a enactment situation escaped from each forms of discrimination, including harassment and retaliation.”

Slide 8 successful the grooming module lists disparate treatment, disparate impact, harassment, and retaliation arsenic the 4 types of amerciable discrimination.

Slide # 8 from the Training Module, "Overview of the County's Anti-Discrimination Policy." Slide 8 from the grooming module, “Overview of the County’s Anti-Discrimination Policy.”
(Miami-Dade County Human Rights & Fair Employment Practices Division)

According to Dacus, Labriola suffered each of these for expressing his opinions connected his ain clip arsenic a backstage national based connected his spiritual beliefs, done his First Amendment close of escaped speech. In the meantime, “his show successful the workplace was beyond reproach.”

“Individuals bash not shed their First Amendment rights erstwhile they statesman to enactment for the government,” Dacus insisted.

Nor bash authorities employees merit to person their privateness uncomfortably violated.

Slide 13 successful the grooming module addresses restroom policies, acknowledging that “sometimes coworkers entity to going successful the aforesaid bath with a transgender person.”

However, those objections are dismissed arsenic “less of an contented than radical deliberation it is,” suggesting that if “management declares this policy,” subordinate employees volition dutifully travel “the pb of management.”

“Also adjuvant is an cognition that indicates that this is ‘no large deal.'”

Slide # 13 from the Training Module, "Overview of the County's Anti-Discrimination Policy" regarding restroom policies. Slide 13 from the grooming module, “Overview of the County’s Anti-Discrimination Policy” regarding restroom policies. (Miami-Dade County Human Rights & Fair Employment Practices Division)

“The County’s policies are insensitive and intolerant to the diverseness of employees who whitethorn person precise tenable objections to feeling personally violated connected a regular ground erstwhile it comes to thing truthful necessitous to utilizing the restroom,” Dacus said. “This deficiency of sensitivity for each employees is precise problematic for this region and contrary to basal rules of quality dignity and respect.”

The “Transgender Sensitivity and Inclusion” grooming module (pdf) teaches region employees astir transgender ideology: what the words “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender” mean, the quality betwixt intersexual predisposition and sex identity/expression, sex transition, what it means to transition, transgender successful binary terms, and each the rules to beryllium followed to debar offending transgender employees.

Slide 33 teaches authorities employees however to admit “factors contributing to a hostile enactment situation for a transgender person,” similar refusal to usage preferred pronouns, “carelessness successful ne'er learning to usage the close pronoun,” oregon refusal to usage a person’s preferred name.

Screenshot of Slide #33 from the Transgender Sensitivity and Inclusion Training Module, teaching authorities  employees however  to "recognize the factors contributing to a hostile situation  for a transgender person." Slide 33 from the “Transgender Sensitivity and Inclusion Training Module,” teaching authorities employees however to “recognize the factors contributing to a hostile situation for a transgender person.” (Miami-Dade County Human Rights & Fair Employment Practices Division)

“No worker should person to interruption their sincerely held spiritual beliefs and convictions successful bid to enactment for the county,” Dacus insisted. “The county, instead, pursuant to Title 7, should effort to reasonably accommodate the spiritual beliefs of those who person objections to utilizing pronouns they see to beryllium false.”

Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is simply a national instrumentality that already protects employees against favoritism based connected race, color, nationalist origin, sex, and religion.

“True tolerance goes some ways and respect indispensable beryllium for each employees,” Dacus concluded. “Unfortunately, this region has not provided specified a enactment situation and has alternatively go an force for existent tolerance and accommodation to each employees successful the workplace.”

The Epoch Times reached retired to the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners for comment.

Patricia Tolson

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Patricia Tolson, an award-winning nationalist investigative newsman with 20 years of experience, has worked for specified quality outlets arsenic Yahoo!, U.S. News, and The Tampa Free Press. With The Epoch Times, Patricia’s in-depth investigative sum of quality involvement stories, predetermination policies, education, schoolhouse boards, and parental rights has achieved planetary exposure. Send her your communicative ideas: [email protected]