George Rodrique said his religious beliefs require him to avoid “polluting” his body with foreign substances.

Michael Nagle
Bloomberg photo by Michael Nagle, File

A former WCVB videographer has filed a lawsuit against the station’s parent company after it allegedly denied his request for a religious exemption from COVID-19 vaccination and terminated him last year.

George Rodrique is suing Hearst Communications and Hearst Stations — which own and operate WCVB — and the director of the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance over his termination and denial of unemployment benefits.

In a suit filed in U.S. District Court Monday, Rodrique said he has developed his own spiritual guidelines “through an amalgamation of biblical maxims, many other ideologies and spiritual practices, and personal experiences that help to guide him down the proper path in life.”

His beliefs require him to avoid “polluting” his body with foreign substances, particularly those that are manmade and do not exist in nature, according to the complaint. 

“Mr. Rodrique believes that God has given humans natural immunity, and that commercial vaccines created, owned, and marketed by profit-making corporations intrude on God’s sacred place within the temple of the human body,” the complaint explains.

Rodrique argues that the station could have accommodated him by giving him more assignments that did not require him to interact with other people, transferring him to helicopter videography, or having him film using a drone.

Hearst’s decision to instead terminate his employment had financial impacts on Rodrique’s family, the complaint alleges. However, “the financial strain pales in comparison with the terrible emotional effect that being discriminated against by Hearst has had on Mr. Rodrique, and on his entire family,” it says. 

The complaint notes that Rodrique’s sense of self-worth has diminished due to his dependence on his wife’s income. 

A Hearst spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

“It’s one thing for employers to discharge people who do not want to get the vaccine. Some employers like hospitals may even have a legitimate basis for doing so,” Rodrique’s attorney, Ilya Feoktistov, said in an email to Boston.com. 

However, Feoktistov questioned the legality of the DUA’s policy on separation issues related to an employee’s failure to meet vaccination requirements. Boston.com has reached out to the DUA for comment on the lawsuit.

Rodrique is accusing Hearst and the DUA of religious discrimination and violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, among other claims.


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