Los Angeles fire department gives Christian lifeguard partial exemption from raising ‘pride’ flag – LifeSite

LOS ANGELES (Thomas More Society) — The Los Angeles County Fire Department has agreed to partially accommodate lifeguard Captain Jeffrey Little for his religious beliefs and not require him to raise the “Progress Pride Flag” as a part of his job for the remainder of June, which they have designated as “Pride Month.” This partial concession follows a federal lawsuit brought on Little’s behalf by Thomas More Society attorneys against the department after months of the county’s stonewalling.

The fire department has made assurances that Little would not be personally responsible for the raising or lowering of the “Progress Pride Flag,” because he either will be assigned to stations that are unable to fly it throughout June or he will be able to trade shifts to such stations.

The county, however, continues to refuse to give Little a full and complete religious accommodation as requested in the lawsuit filed on May 24, 2024. This would be accomplished by granting a standing religious accommodation to permanently and comprehensively protect Little’s religious liberty rights. 

The lawsuit charges the fire department with violating Little’s rights under the First Amendment, federal law, and state law. Little’s sincere and deeply held religious beliefs prohibit his participation in raising the “Progress Pride Flag.” While the fire department’s partial accommodation assuages Little’s immediate concerns, it does not provide full and complete protection for his religious beliefs.

For example, the fire department insists that Captain Little must still ensure that his subordinates comply with this objectionable mandate – something the law clearly does not require. The county has also continued to refuse to rescind the direct order that requires Little’s personal compliance with an earlier version of the “Progress Pride Flag” mandate. It also states that Little will need to renew his request annually and go through the same accommodation request process every year, prior to the start of “Pride Month,” in order to not be forced to raise the “Progress Pride Flag.” Thomas More Society attorneys will file motions for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief for Little.

Paul Jonna, Thomas More Society special counsel and partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP, stated: “For nearly a year, the Los Angeles County Fire Department has ignored Captain Little’s pleas for a religious accommodation. In response to our federal lawsuit, they have finally begun to take some steps in the right direction – but not nearly enough.”

“Captain Little is rightfully and legally due a full and complete standing exemption from this policy – and the solution is simple. Yet instead of developing a practical and workable long-term solution, the Fire Department is continuing to insist that Captain Little violate his sincere religious beliefs in order to keep his job,” he continued.

“In the face of discrimination, harassment, and threats, Captain Little has courageously stood on principle and brought this flagrant constitutional violation into the limelight,” he added. “We understand that L.A. County has received hundreds of similar exemption requests. We will continue prosecuting this case in federal court until we fully vindicate the constitutional rights of Captain Little and others like him.”

Captain Jeffrey Little, Thomas More Society client and plaintiff in this lawsuit, stated: “My hope is that this lawsuit encourages productive dialogue between employees of faith and their employers. No employee should be expected to abandon their faith when entering the workplace and unfortunately, I felt backed into a corner where my faith was incompatible with the requirements of my job. My prayer is that people of faith will flourish in the workplace and not feel as if they need to hide that part of themselves in order to be successful in their jobs.”

Read the Declaration of Paul M. Jonna, esq. Providing Status Report Regarding Plaintiff’s Need for Preliminary Injunctive Relief, filed June 5, 2024, by Thomas More Society attorneys in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, on behalf of Captain Jeffrey Little in Captain Jeffrey Little v. Los Angeles County Fire Department, et al., here.

Read the Verified Complaint for Damages and Injunctive Relief, filed May 24, 2024, by Thomas More Society attorneys in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, on behalf of Captain Jeffrey Little in Captain Jeffrey Little v. Los Angeles County Fire Department, et al., here.

About Thomas More Society

Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and freedom. Headquartered in Chicago and with offices across the country, Thomas More Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. For more information, visit

Republished with permission from Thomas More Society.

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