A Case Anticipates More Conflicts Between Religious Beliefs and Job

( [email protected] ) May 10, 2004 10:10 AM EDT

Chicago, IL – The American Center for Law and Justice, a Christian law firm, filed a lawsuit May 7 on behalf of Emergency Medical Technician Stephanie Adamson, against her former employer, claming religious discrimination because she was fired for refusing to take a woman to a abortion clinic.

"I just felt really strongly it was something that I couldn't do," said Adamson, a devout Christian who is pro-life. "It would be against everything that I believe in and everything that I support."

Case like this is being considered as very unusual yet significant as many experts are in suspect of many such instances that arise because of conflicts between religious beliefs and job responsibilities in today’s society. Businesses will continue to face dilemma as they are entitled to not discriminate based on religion during the hiring process and at the same time not to fire people for not carrying out their job because of their religious beliefs.

“This is a case where an employer fired an employee for acting in accordance with her religious beliefs by refusing to become a participant in an abortion,” said Francis J. Manion, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ, which represents the former employee. “Our client became an EMT because she wanted to save lives, not take lives. Under both federal employment discrimination laws and Illinois state laws, employers cannot simply fire an employee who objects to participating in a medical procedure that is contrary to the employee’s religious beliefs. Unfortunately, in this case the company acted in a manner that violated federal and state law and we are confident that the court will ultimately correct this injustice and move to safeguard her rights.”

Adamson was hired as an Emergency Medical Technician in 2003 and had to respond to a non-emergency call in August 2003 to transport a patient from Mt. Sinai Hospital in Chicago to an abortion clinic. Adamson refused to transport the patient for an elective abortion clearly expressing that transporting the patient to an abortion clinic violated her religious beliefs. After a second crew was sent to transport the patient, Adamson’s supervisor immediately fired her following a brief telephone call on August 21, 2003. The suit will specify damages for loss of income and benefits, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

“The fact is that other arrangements were made to transport this patient to an abortion clinic and our client should not have been punished for exercising her sincerely-held religious beliefs,” said Manion. “Under the circumstances of this case, there was simply no reason why Stephanie Adamson had to be the one who delivered this patient to the abortion clinic. The law is designed to protect – not punish – employees who hold religious beliefs. We are hopeful that this suit sends a strong message to employers that they must work to accommodate employees who hold religious beliefs rather than discriminate against them.”