Friday 23 April 2021

Traffic Official Exempt From Working Saturdays

Traffic police official Rivera is exempt from working Saturdays, based on his religious beliefs, after a ruling by the Constitutional Court. Image for illustrative purposes.
Traffic police official Paul Rivera Nuñez is exempt from working Saturdays, based on his religious beliefs, following a ruling by the Constitutional Court.  Image for illustrative purposes.

(QCOSTARICA) Paúl Rivera Núñez is a religious man. He is also a traffic official (oficial de la Policía de Tránsito).  Working at the Cartago delegation, he has a different work schedule than the rest of his co-workers, he does not work on Saturdays due to his religious beliefs.

Facing dismissal last month, Rivera decided to appeal his case to the Constitutional Court (Sala Constitucional or Sala IV), saying that his faith, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, defines the Sabbath as a day of rest and worship.

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Rivera says he had never been asked to work on Saturdays since he joined the police force in 2013. However, in April of this year he was told verbally that he would have to start working Saturdays.

On Monday, May 11, his superior, Mariano Alfaro, told him that he had submitted his report for his dismissal for not having shown up for work the previous Saturday.

This is when Rivera decided to file a “recurso amparo” (appeal) with the Constitutional Court. The Court, in vote 8155-15, rule in his favour, meaning Rivera’s work week is from Sunday to Friday.

The head of the Policía de Tránsito, Mario Calderon, said that the officer only had had to come forward and the  Dirección General de Tránsito would have managed the situation “without any problems”.

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The police chief added that this is the only case of the type to have come up and that “as police we must be respectful of all faiths and religions (…)”.

“I had made my decision, I would have left the job. For me the Lord’s day is one I was going to respect and if that meant having to leave the job I would have done so”, Rivera said.

Since the Court ruling, the official says he has had no problems at work, and his work schedule is Saturday free.


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