An officer of the Brooklyn Police Department, who is also a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, has taken the New York Police Department to court. She claims that she was subjected to ridicule and was labeled a scammer when she requested Saturdays off to observe her religious worship.
Johanne Saint-Jean became a member of the service back in 2016. She claimed that she received reassurances that she would be able to practice her religious beliefs as a Seventh-Day Adventist. This Christian sect observes the Sabbath from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown.
Throughout her eight-year term, Saint-Jean reported that her bosses challenged her religious beliefs by stating, “you’re not Jewish. Why are you practicing as though you are Jewish?”
A lawsuit has been filed by Saint-Jean in the Manhattan Supreme Court. She alleged that her superiors told her there was no place for her in the police department because of her religion. Although she initially had dreams of working for the NYPD, her experience turned into a nightmare. Eventually, she was granted religious accommodations for her required days off, as reported by the New York Post.
According to court papers, her superiors expressed their displeasure about her being granted a weekend day off and began to criticize her religious beliefs. One of her bosses even went as far as saying, “I don’t understand your religion. Your religion is messed up.” This kind of behavior towards her religious affiliation left her feeling uneasy.
According to Saint-Jean, she was a victim of discriminatory behavior when her supervisor allegedly made a derogatory remark about her religion, stating it was “not for black people.” This incident resulted in her being scheduled to work on Saturdays, which forced her to use her personal accrued time off to observe the Sabbath. Such behavior is unacceptable and should not be tolerated in any workplace. Discrimination on the basis of religion or race is a violation of human rights and must be addressed promptly and appropriately.
In her legal filing, she claimed that due to this situation, she has been deprived of overtime opportunities and the chance to work in specialized units. She went on to explain that her problems intensified when Sgt. Robbin Abrams took over as her supervisor in 2020. She recounted how Abrams had told her that she was viewed as a “scammer” and that no police officer wanted to work with her.
During that year, Saint-Jean made an allegation that her superiors had falsely reported her absence without leave on a Saturday. This led to Nassau County police officers being sent to her home in Long Island, which she saw as a form of harassment.
According to her, the officers who showed up at her doorstep accused her of being AWOL and stated that her supervisors were unable to reach her. However, this seemed absurd to her as she had taken the day off due to her religious observance.
As a mother of three, the officer has been facing constant harassment despite submitting multiple complaints about her mistreatment. She is hoping that her lawsuit will push the NYPD to take necessary actions and bring about positive changes.