BROOKLYN (CN) – Speaking in tongues at a blaspheming co-worker cost a Queens man his job as a city environmental protection officer, a $2 million federal complaint alleges.
Jerome Boswell filed the action Tuesday against the City of New York and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, where he worked as an environmental protection officer since 2009.
When chatting with colleagues that August about the lack of a work contract, Boswell, a Pentecostal Christian, says he “stated that he was leaving the issue of the contract up to God.”
The co-workers allegedly did not like this sentiment, even though Boswell says they “commonly shared with him their religious beliefs and have encouraged plaintiff to get in touch with his own spirituality.”
One told him: “God is not powerful and that if He were powerful, they would have a contract,” the complaint states.
Boswell says he “took the comment as blasphemy and told his coworker that he needed to repent.”
He says he then started to pray and “to ‘speak in tongues,’ a common practice of his religion.
That’s when Boswell’s supervisors allegedly called an Emergency Services Unit, which handcuffed Boswell and shipped him off to a psych ward at the Westchester Medical Center for evaluation.
Through its own appointed psychologist, the agency then determined that Boswell was “not psychologically fit to resume full duty police work with firearms,” according to the complaint.
Boswell says he underwent continued examinations by the department’s psychologists to return to duty but was fired in January 2014.
Though the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings allegedly sided with Boswell after he filed an objection, ordering the employee’s reinstatement, the DEP has refused to bring him back, according to the complaint.
“Plaintiff contends that, although he may have been overzealous in expressing certain religious, spiritual practices at work, it does not render him unfit for duty,” the complaint states.
Boswell wants $2 million for employment discrimination.
He is represented by Nadira Stewart in Rosedale, N.Y.
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