Tulsa police officer loses suit over refusing to attend a local mosque for free lunch for law enforcement
On December 2, 2011 At 10:39 am
Responses : 15 Comments
A federal judge ruled this week that a Tulsa police officer's attempt to file suit over eating in a mosque claiming that eating there violated his First Amendment rights would be "futile" at best. Tulsa.com reports:
U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell wrote, "Fields has offered no case law for the proposition that filing a lawsuit turns a dispute over the violation of personal rights into a public concern that implicates the First Amendment."
Frizzell also denied Fields' attempt to add a claim under the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act, writing that nothing the city of Tulsa – or other defendants – allegedly did kept Fields from practicing his religion.
The Law Enforcement Appreciation Day was held at an Islamic Society of Tulsa mosque March 4 to give the group a chance to show its gratitude for police officers' response to a threat against it.
However, Fields refused to attend the event based on his religious beliefs and also refused to require his subordinates to attend.
Fields filed the first version of his Tulsa federal court lawsuit on Feb. 23 against Deputy Chief Daryl Webster, claiming that Webster retaliated against him and singled out Fields for disparate treatment because of the stance he took.
The first incarnation of the lawsuit was filed two days after Fields was "temporarily transferred" from the Police Department's Riverside Division to another patrol shift at the Mingo Valley Division.
Fields stated in correspondence with a superior that he considered an order to attend the event to be "an unlawful order, as it is in direct conflict with (his) personal religious convictions, as well as to be conscience shocking."
He also told his superiors that he would not require any of his subordinates to follow the order "if they share similar religious convictions."
The judge also noted that just because the officer filed a lawsuit doesn't mean "that it's a matter for public concern."