NBA sued by former referees for religious freedom violations over ‘jab or job ultimatum’ exemptions

Two former NBA referees and their attorney attacked the league on Monday’s “Fox and Friends First,” telling the cohosts that the NBA’s attorneys determined after 30 minutes that their applications for exemption from “jab or job ultimatum” were insincere.

Kenny Mauer and Jason Phillips are taking the league to court after their request for exemption to COVID vaccine mandates during the 2021-2022 season was rejected following a short meeting with a league attorney, during which the league determined the former referees were “atheist.”

(Video: Fox News)

“We took part in a 30-minute interview,” said Mauer, who had worked with the NBA for 43 years. “A lawyer in the NBA office interviewed us and then went back to the NBA management, and then they came to the conclusion that I wasn’t a religious person, I guess.”

Mauer, Phillips and Mark Ayotte filed suit on November 12 in Manhattan federal court, claiming the league “improperly forced compliance with its ‘hygienic norms,’ and wrongly concluded that their sincere religious objections fell short of its ‘high standard’ against being vaccinated,” Reuters reported.

The plaintiffs take exception to the league’s willy-nilly approach to determining sincerity in exemption applications, dismissing both Mauer and Phillips as insincere.

“[I] submitted a religious exemption that was definitely sincere and then, after an interview on my own also, the NBA came to the conclusion after quite some time that it was not sincere,” Phillips told host Todd Piro who questioned the NBA’s reasoning. “They will have to answer that question.”

Attorney Sheldon Karasik said the league used sham science or a “Pinocchio test” to determine applicant merit.

“When they were interviewing my clients and all the others for a 30-minute period of time, when my clients and others were not allowed to be represented by counsel, I guess their nose[s] grew several inches like Pinocchio’s and, lo and behold, they found that they weren’t being sincere and truthful,” he said. “The fact is it’s a sham exemption. It’s not a real exemption. They granted none based upon parsing through statements over a long period of time, they took a few out of context and then say ‘shazam, they’re liars and not religious. They’re atheists at heart.’ It’s an absurdity.”

Piro questioned the league’s ability to stand in judgment on another’s religious attitude.

“Since when is the NBA the arbiter of religion,” he asked.

Mauer said COVID was the first time he encountered such discrimination within the league.

“I guess I’m baffled,” he said. “I respected them and loved working with them most of my life. I don’t know that religion has ever come into play. We’ve never been asked to explain our religion. We’ve never been asked. It’s always been a freedom that everybody, including employees of the NBA have enjoyed and now all of a sudden because there’s this pandemic or there’s this virus or whatever, now all of a sudden…”

Mauer said the league was the one to initiate the option of exemption for medical and religious reasons but apparently had no plans to approve them for Christians.

“They denied both my religious and medical exemption,” he said. “I don’t know. I really don’t know.”

Mauer said their suit speaks for those who can’t afford an attorney to fight religious discrimination. He hopes taking on a behemoth like the NBA will make others pause before judging another’s religious beliefs.

“We speak for people all over the world,” he said. “I don’t know why all of a sudden people look for a reason to claim we are not something we’ve acknowledged our whole life. I don’t know what gives them that right.”

“I’ve been a practicing Catholic and a Christian since I was baptized 60-some years ago and my religious faith never changed, it’s not going to change,” Mauer continued. “[Neither] the NBA nor any human being nor any person in the world is going to change how I feel about our lord Jesus Christ and how I feel about my faith, my religion.”

 Republished with permission from American Wire News Service


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