NORFOLK, Va. — A new brief filed in federal court alleges that the U.S. Navy continues to punish and discriminate against more than 4,000 unvaccinated Navy personnel based on their religious beliefs--even after the Department of Defense rescinded the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The new complaint says punitive actions taken against the sailors include restricting travel necessary for their jobs, demanding repayment of educational expenses and previously awarded and rightfully earned bonuses, and refusing to allow participation in meaningful training opportunities and operational assignments.
"The more than 4,000 sailors that are part of our class action, the vast majority of them continue to face adverse actions because of their religious objections to the vaccine," said attorney Mike Berry, the director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute, which is representing the sailors.
Berry continued: "The Navy and the Department of Defense have used this, what was once a health crisis, and turned it into an ideological litmus test for people serving in the military."
4,095 sailors who submitted religious exemption requests are part of the suit, originally brought by 26 Navy SEALs and other members of the Naval Special Warfare community who sued to prevent being separated from service over their refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccinations because of their religious beliefs.
13News Now reached out to the Navy's Chief of Information's Office seeking comment about the new allegations. We have yet to hear back.
Oral arguments in the lawsuit are set to take place before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Louisiana next week on Feb. 6.