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A Redlands teacher has filed two suits against Redlands Unified School District for not granting him a masking or coronavirus testing exemption.

Reginald Pulliam, a Citrus Valley High School special-education teacher, claims a membership in the True Hope Ministry, which forbids masking faces, according to his complaint. 

Follow Our Courts has reached out to RUSD and is awaiting a response.

“The True Hope Ministry preaches that God breathed life into man and when man breathes, he is breathing the breath of God. For that reason, veiling is strictly prohibited and viewed as being an affront to the Creator,” his complaint says.

The complaint also claims coronavirus disease tests contain harmful substances that could damage the body, and are also restricted under his church’s teachings.

In an Aug. 9 human resources meeting, the school district had granted Pulliam a testing and vaccination exemption, but required him to still wear a mask, according to the complaint.

In an Aug. 16 letter, the school district stated it could not grant Pulliam the testing exemption due to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders, according to the complaint.

Pulliam’s complaint also mentions health and medical conditions that he claims make him unable to comply with the vaccination or testing requirements, and that the school’s requirements imposed serious psychological hardships on him that affected his work.

Pulliam’s complaint claims eight causes of action:

  1. Disability discrimination in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act
  2. Failure to accommodate in violation of FEHA
  3. Failure to engage in the interactive process in violation of FEHA
  4. Religious discrimination in violation of FEHA
  5. Retaliation in violation of FEHA
  6. Failure to prevent retaliation in violation of FEHA
  7. Failure to prevent discrimination in violation of FEHA
  8. Harassment in violation of FEHA

Pulliam prayed for loss of earnings, prejudgment interest on lost wages and benefits, general damages, punitive damages, medical expenses, attorney’s fees, and damages available for violations of FEHA, the Government Code, the California Constitution and common law.

The suit requests a jury trial.

True Hope Ministry gathers once a month in San Clemente, and provides religious exemption letters at a cost of $195, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“We should go about our daily business unmasked, unconcealed,” a November, 2020, YouTube video from True Hope Ministry leader David Hall says.

Hall cited verses from the Bible, Corinthians 3:16-18, which said Christians do not need to wear a veil while reading a covenant in a previous biblical passage as formerly required.

Pulliam filed an employment case and a complex civil case at the same time. They carry the same complaints.

The next hearing for the complex case is a complex case management conference March 2, under San Bernardino Superior Judge David Cohn.

The next hearing for the employment case is a trial setting conference June 7 under San Bernardino Superior Judge Wilfred Schneider Jr.

The school district’s lawyers have not been identified yet.

Gary Carlin and Alexander Zaimi of the Long Beach Law Offices of Gary Carlin represent Pulliam.

Case numbers CIVSB2129676 and CIVSB2129227.

Read the complaint here.


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