A religious-discrimination complaint has been filed against the Louisiana Health Department on behalf of a health-care worker who claims she’s being discriminated against because of her refusal to dispense the “morning after” pill.
Cynthia Day, a nurse at a clinic in New Orleans, says she has repeatedly told her supervisors that she can’t dispense the pill because she believes life is sacred and begins at fertilization.
Day claims she’s been criticized for her religious beliefs and that her employer has threatened to fire her because of her refusal to dispense the pregnancy-ending medication.
The American Center for Law and Justice, a public-interest law firm, represents Day. The organization claims her employer, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, is discriminating against the nurse because of her religious beliefs. It has filed a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights.
“This is a case where a nurse is facing religious discrimination because her deeply held beliefs do not permit her to dispense medication designed to end pregnancies,” said ACLJ’s Stuart Roth in a statement.
Day also says she’s been transferred to a job that makes her more likely to have to dispense so-called “emergency contraception.”
“There is no question that the health department could have another employee dispense the medication instead of our client. But, health department officials have not only rejected our request to accommodate our client’s religious beliefs, they continue to threaten and intimidate this health-care professional in a manner that is both unprofessional and unlawful,” said Roth.
Roth says ACLJ was required to file formal complaints with the EEOC and the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights before it can move forward with a lawsuit against the health department.
The case won’t mark the first time ACLJ makes an appearance in court because of the “morning after” pill.
In May, the organization convinced a California jury that Riverside County violated the constitutional rights of a former nurse when it fired her for refusing to dispense the same medication.
The jury found the county violated the woman’s First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of religion. It also ruled the county failed to reasonably accommodate her religious beliefs.
Damages in that case – including a jury award and attorney’s fees – totaled $100,000.
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