A Brooklyn police officer and a Seventh Day Adventist has dragged the New York Police Department to court after she said she faced ridicule and was labeled a scammer when she asked for Saturdays off to observe her religious worship.
Johanne Saint-Jean, who joined the service in 2016, alleged that she was initially assured that she could observe her religious beliefs as a Seventh-Day Adventist, a Christian sect that observes the Sabbath from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.
During her eight-year tenure, Saint-Jean claimed that her superiors questioned her religious practices by saying, “you’re not Jewish. Why are you practicing like you’re Jewish?”
According to a lawsuit filed in the Manhattan Supreme Court, Saint-Jean alleged further that her superiors informed her there was no place for her in the police department due to her religion. Despite her initial dream of working for the NYPD, her experience turned into a nightmare. She was eventually granted religious accommodations for her required days off, as reported by the New York Post.
She added that her superiors later stated that fellow officers were upset about her being granted a weekend day off and started to criticize her religious beliefs. One boss told her, “I don’t understand your religion. Your religion is messed up,” as documented in court papers.
Saint-Jean also claimed that a supervisor made a discriminatory comment by stating that her religion was “not for black people.” As a result, she was assigned to work on Saturdays, which compelled her to use her personal accrued time off to observe the Sabbath.
This, she alleged, has resulted in her missing out on overtime opportunities and transfers to specialized units, as detailed in her legal filing. According to her, her woes worsened in 2020 when Sgt. Robbin Abrams became her new supervisor. She pointed out that Abrams told her that “no cop wants to work with you because you are a scammer.”
In the same year, Saint-Jean claimed that her superiors wrongly declared her absent without leave on a Saturday and sent Nassau County police officers to her Long Island residence, which she perceives as an act of harassment.
She maintained that when the officers arrived, they informed her that she was AWOL and claimed that her supervisors had been unable to contact her, which she considers preposterous since she had the day off as per her religious accommodation.
The officer, who is a mother of three, said despite submitting multiple formal complaints regarding her treatment, she is still under constant harassment. She hopes her lawsuit will prompt the NYPD to institute changes.