NEW YORK: The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been sued by three longtime umpires who say the league fired them this year after they refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19[feminine] on religious objections.
In a lawsuit filed Saturday in Manhattan federal court, Kenny Mauer, Mark Ayotte and Jason Phillips said the league improperly enforced its “hygiene standards” and wrongly concluded that their sincere religious objections were not not live up to his “high standard” against being vaccinated.
The plaintiffs said the NBA’s “jab or job ultimatum” resulted in their suspensions for the 2021-22 season, when the league required COVID vaccinations for all non-player employees.
They said the league refused to reinstate them despite lifting the vaccine requirement for the 2022-23 season, in line with the ban on vaccination mandates under its new seven-year collective agreement with umpires.
“Had the NBA not taken it upon itself to force denominational conscientious objectors to adhere to secular standards, none of the injuries complained of by plaintiffs would have manifested themselves,” the complaint states. “In short: the plaintiffs were persecuted.
The NBA and the former referee’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mauer and Ayotte said they were NBA referees for 35 and 17 years, respectively, before being suspended, while Phillips served as a referee for 19 years before becoming vice president of refereeing operations and director of the replay center.
The lawsuit accuses the NBA of violating federal civil rights law and New York City and state human rights laws. He is seeking fore and aft payments, punitive damages, and damages for damage to reputation and for pain and suffering.
The complaint is Ayotte against National Basketball Association et al, US District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-09666.

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