LA County Fire Dept. allows partial exemption to Christian lifeguard who sued over LGBT pride flag

'No employee should be expected to abandon their faith'

Captain Jeffrey Little, above, is suing the Los Angeles Fire Department and others for religious discrimination after he was allegedly punished for declining to fly a Pride flag at his firehouse.
Captain Jeffrey Little, above, is suing the Los Angeles Fire Department and others for religious discrimination after he was allegedly punished for declining to fly a Pride flag at his firehouse. | Credit: Thomas More Society

The Los Angeles County Fire Department has reportedly agreed to offer a partial exemption to a Christian lifeguard captain who sued for religious discrimination after claiming he was punished for not raising a pride flag last summer.

Following his lawsuit, LACoFD agreed to allow Jeffrey Little, who has served Los Angeles County for 22 years, the option of not raising the Progress Pride flag during June as part of his job, according to a Wednesday press release from the nonprofit law firm Thomas More Society, which represented Little.

"The Fire Department has made assurances that Little would not be personally responsible for the raising or lowering of the Progress Pride Flag, because he either will be assigned to stations that are unable to fly the Progress Pride Flag throughout June, or he will be able to trade shifts to such stations," the press release said.

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The complaint against LACoFD and various officials that Little's attorneys filed on May 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ultimately stemmed from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors' March 2023 resolution mandating Progress Pride flags be flown at all county-owned facilities.

Because lifeguard facilities are under LACoFD jurisdiction, Little's beachside lifeguard facility at Will Rogers Beach in Pacific Palisades was mandated to unfurl the flag, though he first obtained an exemption last year that was later rescinded, according to the lawsuit.

Little was also subsequently subjected to retaliation and harassment when his supervising officers demanded that he raise the Progress Pride flag despite his Christian convictions, he alleged.

"You are an LA County employee, that's the only thing that matters," Division Chief Fernando Boiteux allegedly told him. "Your religious beliefs do not matter."

Little was also allegedly removed from the department's background investigation unit, and news of his accommodation request leaked to unauthorized people, which led to a death threat against his family.

The Thomas More Society noted that despite the partial accommodation, the county is continuing to refuse to give Little the "full and complete religious accommodation" he requested in his lawsuit, which the nonprofit said would include "a standing religious accommodation to permanently and comprehensively protect Little’s religious liberty rights."

Little is still reportedly being expected to ensure that his subordinates comply with the Progress Pride flag mandate to which he objects, and he is also going to be expected to file for a religious accommodation request every pride month. His attorneys plan to file for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief.

The Christian Post has reached out to the LACoFD for comment and will update this story if a response is received.

"My hope is that this lawsuit encourages productive dialogue between employees of faith and their employers," Little said in a statement. "No employee should be expected to abandon their faith when entering the workplace and unfortunately, I felt backed into a corner where my faith was incompatible with the requirements of my job."

"My prayer is that people of faith will flourish in the workplace and not feel as if they need to hide that part of themselves in order to be successful in their jobs," he added.

Attorney Paul Jonna, who represents Little, told The Christian Post last week that he hopes Little's case will set a precedent by which any Christian who objects to such displays can be protected.

"I think we're seeing employers across the country — but especially here in southern California with Los Angeles County's directives — that are not only having the government promote the pride flag, have the pride flag flown, but now they're forcing certain employees to handle the flag and raise the flag," Jonna said.

"For a devout Christian to ask for an accommodation not to have to personally raise the flag is such an easy accommodation, such a simple solution," he said. "Just have someone else raise the flag. Devout Christians need to have protections in place. There needs to be strong precedent in place protecting them, and the law already provides for that protection."

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to

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