A former North Carolina deputy is suing the Lee County’s Sheriff Office for religious discrimination after he was fired for refusing to train a new female officer.

Manuel Torres, 51, started working for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office on October 2012. A few years later, he was ordered to train a new female hire, but Torres, as an evangelical Christian, asserted that his faith prohibits him from being alone with women who aren’t his wife―which he said is exactly what would happen if he agreed to train a female deputy, according to his lawsuit to federal court in North Carolina on July 31.

He then asked the sheriff’s office to exempt him from training the female deputy in July 2017, but his request was refused. At least one higher-up expressed “anger” at his repeated requests for accommodation, the lawsuit states.

Tom claims he was fired in September 2017 “because of his religious beliefs and because he continued to request a reasonable religious accommodation from a job duty that violated his sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The lawsuit also said that two other small towns Torres says subsequently denied him a job because of his religious beliefs about interacting with women. He seeks more than $300,000 in damages, as well as reinstatement by the sheriff’s office.

Apex town officials said they do not comment on pending litigation and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return requests for comment.

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