This 3-page section consolidates most JEHOVAH'S WITNESS HEALTH CARE WORKERS and HEALTH CARE SUPPORT EMPLOYEES cases which are scattered throughout the appropriate "topic" sections in our two sister websites. We have attempted to separate the cases into WORK SCHEDULING, HOLIDAYS-BIRTHDAYS, PROSELYTIZING, CRIMES, PROHIBITED DUTIES, CLAIMS OF DISCRIMINATION, and MISCELLANEOUS related sections, but there will always be some cross-over cases. Most cases are in descending chronological order by section.
However, visitors to this webpage should understand that some of the MOST IMPORTANT Jehovah's Witness Health Care Worker cases are NOT included on this webpage. We have another webpage devoted exclusively to the topic of BREACH OF CONFIDENTIALITY, which includes cases that demonstrate BREACH OF MEDICAL CONFIDENTIALITY by Jehovah's Witness Health Care Workers and Support Staff. We suggest that you click the link above and first READ and STUDY that important webpage before coming back to read this webpage. Health Care Industry Employers (including Medical Transcription services) should understand that the WatchTower Society teaches its members employed as Health Care Workers and Support Staff that breaching medical confidentiality is a REQUIRED RELIGIOUS ACT under certain circumstances, and no threat of termination, nor threat of end-of-career, nor threat of monetary penalty, can override the coveted opportunity for a Jehovah's Witness Health Care Worker to suffer religious martyrdom for the WatchTower Society.
Visitors should also understand that while the over 50 HCW-specific cases posted on this webpage will give readers a good feel for how various issues affect the employment of Jehovah's Witnesses in the Health Care field, you really need to visit and study our topic-specific webpages (covering all occupations) on this same website for background information not included on this webpage, and to get a more complete look at how problems may still erupt in scenarios not covered below.
WORK SCHEDULING CASES
WATCHTOWER MEETINGS TAKE PRIORITY
In November 2007, Leonardo Fields filed an internal grievance letter complaining that on several occasions employees were not there to relieve him when his shift ended, thereby requiring Fields to stay beyond his scheduled shift. Fields filed this grievance in response to his being disciplined for failing on November 17, 2007 to stay until appropriate staffing arrived, and leaving the facility without permission from his supervisor. Fields received a 2-day disciplinary suspension and a final written warning as a result of his actions. In his grievance, Fields indicated that after waiting an hour and a half for someone to relieve him, he had to leave to be home to receive his son. In response to his grievance, a review board reduced Fields' suspension to one day, but retained the final written warning.
In fact, Rainbow had been experiencing multiple scheduling problems as multiple employees were being tardy or absent, and/or not willing to work weekends. To help solve the problem, Rainbow instituted a new scheduling policy which required all employees to work their fair share of weekend days. Fields was scheduled to work one Sunday in June 2008, and another Sunday in July 2008. Fields swapped shifts with a co-worker in June, but needed management's assistance for a swap in July. Despite its scheduling problems, Rainbow never again scheduled Fields to work on an "accommodated day".
However, in August 2008, Rainbow sent Fields a memo advising Fields that he was required to work his his scheduled shifts, including his fair share of weekends. Rainbow further advised Leonardo Fields: "You can make schedule change requests, and Rainbow will determine if your request can be accommodated, but you may not dictate to us what your schedule will be."
In November 2008, Leonardo Fields "prematurely" requested that Rainbow add "Wednesdays" to his list of accommodated days, because the WatchTower meetings being held on Tuesdays and Thursdays were going to be consolidated and moved to Wednesdays starting January 2009. However, it is not certain that Fields told Rainbow that this was a future event, nor certain that Fields told Rainbow that WatchTower meetings no longer would be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
On December 23, 2008, Fields received a disciplinary suspension of three days, and a Last and Final written warning for failing to properly supervise a client assigned to him by leaving the client behind at the facility with no supervision. On January 19, 2009, due to Fields' failure to attend a mandatory CPR/FA class on January 13, 2009, Plaintiff was issued a Last and Final written warning with a suspension until Fields completed his recertification training requirements. Although January 13 was a Tuesday -- one of Fields' accommodated days -- he had selected the date of the class. In a subsequent discussion with Supervisor, Fields acknowledged that he was aware of the meeting but that he got stuck with his son at school.
Leonardo Fields also failed to attend a mandatory staff meeting on January 27, 2009 -- a Thursday. Rainbow's policy required the rehabilitation assistant to inform their supervisor prior to the meeting or training session, and an alternative one-on-one session was arranged. Previously, Fields had arranged one-on-one meetings on several occasions when he was unable to attend a monthly meeting, or scheduled certification or training. On a few previous occasions, Fields had even attended monthly meetings even when they occurred on his "accommodated days".
As a result of Fields' failure to attend the January 27, 2009 staff meeting, and his prior policy violations, Rainbow fired Fields on February 24, 2009. In January 2010, Fields filed this federal lawsuit alleging that Rainbow violated Title VII by failing to accommodate his religious beliefs, and by retaliating against him for filing an internal grievance in 2007. Rainbow moved for summary judgment, and such was granted by the USDC in June 2011, stating in part:
... Viewing the evidence presented in a light most favorable to Plaintiff, this Court agrees that Plaintiff fails to present evidence to raise a genuine issue of fact as to whether Defendants discharged or disciplined him for failing to comply with employment requirement(s) that conflicted with his religious beliefs.
With respect to Defendants' discipline of Plaintiff on January 19, 2009, while the CPR/FA training that Plaintiff failed to attend was scheduled on one of Plaintiff's requested days off, he jointly chose that date with [supervisor]. Moreover, in subsequent communications with [supervisor], Plaintiff did not claim that he failed to attend the training due to a conflict with his religious beliefs. Instead, he indicated that he failed to attend because he had been stuck at school with his son.
Defendants did not terminate Plaintiff simply for failing to attend the January 27, 2009 staff meeting which occurred on one of Plaintiff's accommodation days. Rather Defendants terminated Plaintiff because he failed to attend the meeting and failed to contact [supervisor] and arrange alternative one-one-one training. The ability to arrange one-on-one training as an alternative to attending meetings scheduled on one of his accommodated days means, in this Court view, that Plaintiff's religious beliefs did not conflict with an employment requirement. However, even if Plaintiff established a prima case of discrimination, the evidence shows that Defendants in fact accommodated Plaintiff's religious beliefs throughout his employment by not scheduling him on the three and then four days each week that he sought off, allowing him to trade shifts when he was scheduled (whether intentionally or unintentionally) on one of his accommodation days, and permitting him to arrange a one-on-one meeting or training session when such meetings or sessions were scheduled on his accommodation days.
Plaintiff argues that Defendants should not have scheduled staff meetings and training and certification sessions on days that they knew were his accommodation days. In this Court's view, however, it is not reasonable to expect an employer to schedule staff meetings to avoid one employee's accommodated days, particularly where the employee is not able to work four of seven days per week and one of the three days the employee is able to work is a Saturday when the employer already has difficulty getting employers to work. Moreover, Defendants establish that Plaintiff attended meetings and training sessions in the past despite the fact that they were held on one of his accommodated days. Finally, Defendants offered Plaintiff a reasonable alternative to attending those meetings and sessions on his accommodation days, as well as when he was scheduled to work on one of those days, in that they allowed him to arrange alternative one-on-one meetings and/or sessions and to trade shifts with other employees. ... ... ...
Plaintiff claims that Defendants retaliated against him for submitting his November 2007 internal grievance when they scheduled him to work shifts on Sunday, June 29, and Sunday, July 6, 2008, and scheduled staff meetings on the days he requested to not work due to his religious beliefs. With respect to the Sunday shifts, Plaintiff did not work those shifts as he was able to trade them with other employees. The Court therefore does not believe that he suffered an adverse employment action. Even if he did, however, Plaintiff offers no evidence to establish a causal connection between his internal grievance letter and his two scheduled Sunday shifts. While Plaintiff was disciplined for not attending the staff meeting and training session scheduled on his accommodated days, he likewise presents no evidence suggesting a causal connection between the scheduling of the meeting and session and his grievance more than a year earlier. In short, Plaintiff fails to establish a prima facie claim of retaliation.
LEWIS ROGERS, JR v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS was a 1997-1999 federal employee EEOC decision which involved an African-American Jehovah's Witness named Lewis Rogers Jr. Rogers was employed as a Records Management/Duplication Clerk at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Asheville, North Carolina. Rogers was scheduled to work Monday through Friday, from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Rogers was the only employee who performed his duties.
In February 1997, Lewis Rogers Jr requested that his work schedule be "compressed" to Monday through Thursday from 6:00 AM to 4:30 PM., which would "allow him more time to devote to his Family and Church." Rogers failed to identify a specific WatchTower belief or practice which required him to not work on Fridays. Rogers' request was denied, and Rogers thereafter filed a complaint alleging religious discrimination based on the agency's failure to provide reasonable accommodation "to pursue his work with his church and devote more time to his family." After the agency ruled that there had been no religious discrimination, Rogers added the allegations that he had also suffered racial discrimination, color discrimination, and age discrimination. On appeal, the EEOC affirmed the agency's ruling that there had been no religious discrimination, and found no race, color, nor age discrimination.
DONALD HAIG v. ST. EDWARDS MERCY HOSPITAL was a 1982-83 unemployment compensation case ultimately decided by the Arkansas Court of Appeals. After Donald Haig converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses, he began attending the three WatchTower conventions each year. Although it created scheduling problems, St. Edwards Mercy Hospital readily cooperated in allowing Haig to switch shifts or take accrued vacation time in order to attend these three conventions.
In August 1982, Haig notified the Hospital of a convention being held on a Saturday, but the work schedules had already been prepared, and Haig was scheduled to work. Haig was allowed to switch shifts with a co-worker, but the co-worker later had a personal conflict arise, and he was unable to work the Saturday shift. Haig attempted to arrange for a substitute, but the only other available co-worker was too inexperienced and was unacceptable to the employer. Since no acceptable substitute was available, the Hospital informed Haig that he would be required to work, and, if he attended the convention leaving no one to work his shift, then he would be fired. Haig informed Hospital that he intended to be present at the scheduled convention, and he tendered his resignation.
Haig filed for unemployment benefits, which were denied by the Board of Review on a finding that he voluntarily quit his last work without good cause connected with the work. This appellate decision affirmed the denial, stating:
After a review of the record, we are satisfied that there is substantial evidence to support the Board's decision denying benefits to the appellant on a finding that he voluntarily quit his last work. We find the Sherbert and Thomas decisions distinguishable from the facts presented in the case at bar. Here, the appellant's desire to attend the religious convention was not a 'cardinal principle of' or 'conduct mandated by' his religion. Thus, he was not required to choose between his employment and the sacrifice of a constitutionally protected right. Since the appellant's desire to attend the convention was personally motivated and his non-attendance was not violative of the foundation of his religion, we affirm the Board's denial of unemployment compensation benefits.
The Arkansas Appellate Court's reasoning was incorrect. The cited precedents make it clear that an employee's personal beliefs are controlling; even if such are more restrictive than that required by his denomination. Instead, this court should have ruled in the hospital's favor based on precedents pertaining to "accommodation". In this instance, the hospital clearly had made reasonable attempts to accommodate Haig's schedule, and his eventual absence created an "undue hardship" for his employer.
DEPT OF HRS v. VENTURI-CLYDE was a 1977 personnel hearing involving a Florida Jehovah's Witness employed at a state-operated residential facility for the profound and severely retarded. The JW Employee requested two days annual leave to attend a Jehovah's Witness Circuit Assembly. By making inquiry of other employees as to exchanging days with the JW Employee and instructing the JW Employee to do the same, the employer attempted to accommodate the JW Employee's request, but was unsuccessful. The JW Employee took off the two days anyway, plus failed to call in. After returning to work, the JW Employee was docked the two day's pay, and was suspended for three days without pay. The JW Employee appealed the suspension. The Hearing found that the employer's attempt to make an "accommodation" was "reasonable", though such failed. The Hearing found that the suspension was not due to the JW Employee attendance at the religious convention, but due to the Employee's history of tardiness and absences. On numerous occasions during her employment, the JW Employee had been orally counseled by her supervisor regarding excessive absences and tardiness. In April 1975, and January 1976, respondent received written reprimands from her supervisor for an unauthorized absence and habitual tardiness. On both occasions, she was warned that the next such offense would warrant suspension. The suspension was affirmed.
Guelda E. Brown is a 53 year-old African-Dominican woman born in the United States. Brown began working at Montefiore in 1995 as a medical secretary. In 2008, Brown became a senior clerk in the Medical Center's Home Care department. In 2013, Brown converted to the Jehovah's Witness religion. Of the five current and retired Montefiore coworkers and supervisors named in this lawsuit, two coworkers are African-American females, one supervisor is Asian male, one supervisor was a white female, and one coworker was a white male.
Brown claims that throughout her employment she was actively and consistently harassed, discriminated against, and retaliated against as a result of her African-Dominican heritage. Such only worsened after Brown became a Jehovah's Witness. Examples of such include: Dominicans were spoken of disparagingly. Brown alleges that she was forbidden to speak Spanish at any time with coworkers permitted to speak Spanish. Brown claims that during every Christmas season that she was asked why she didn't celebrate Christmas. In 2016, Brown's supervisor allegedly gave nice Christmas gifts to everyone else in the department except Brown. In 2017, Brown was excluded from a department photograph intended to be used as a Christmas decoration. Brown complains that training and advancement opportunities were kept from her. Deserved medical and family leave was denied. Etc. Etc.
By 2018, Brown could no longer handle the stress. Brown's psychiatrist recommended 30 days leave. Brown requested and was granted a job transfer. By April 2018, Brown was unable to work at Montefiore. Brown has been on unpaid leave since.
Guelda Brown filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC on March 28, 2018. EEOC chose not to prosecute, but issued a Right-To-Sue letter on April 17, 2018. Brown filed this lawsuit that same day. The USDC referred such to Magistrate Judge Parker, who after allowing multiple amendments issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that the parties' motions be granted in part and denied in part. In 2019, Brown's claims for sex discrimination under Title VII, breach of contract, assault, and negligence were dismissed with prejudice by the USDC. Brown's sex discrimination claims under the NYSHRL and the NYCHRL, and her FMLA claim, were dismissed with leave to amend. Pending.
CABALUNA v. HOAG MEMORIAL HOSPITAL was a 2009-14 California state appellate court decision which should encourage any and all Jehovah's Witness Employees who have been or who are being harassed or discriminated against by a supervisor or co-worker because of their religious beliefs and/or practices to continue to FILE MULTIPLE COMPLAINTS with their Employer until the offending supervisor or co-worker is disciplined or even terminated.
In this court case, the plaintiff, Cabaluna, was the TERMINATED former co-worker of a Jehovah's Witness Employee named Marilyn E. Dougher, of Huntington Beach, California. Despite having been employed by Hoag Memorial Hospital for 28 YEARS, and at the time of her discharge being the Charge Nurse in the Hospital's dialysis unit, Cabaluna was FIRED by the Hospital in 2009 after she "conducted in the workplace a mocking birthday celebration for [Marilyn] Dougher during which she gave [Marilyn]Dougher a birthday cake and sang 'Happy Birthday, Bitch'." Marilyn E. Dougher, then age 56, complained about the "mocking birthday celebration" to her own supervisor, and the Hospital thereafter fired Cabaluna.
Here, Thomas claims that the following incidents created a religiously hostile work environment for her: 1) receiving questions from co-workers regarding her faith; 2) exclusion from birthday parties; 3) Finnegan "undermining or sabotaging" her work; 4) Hemmerling making two comments about her religion; 5) someone placing fish in the trash can outside of her office; 6) receiving "less favorable" treatment than other employees with respect to days off during her probationary period; 7) not being able to place a name tag outside of her door; and 8) not being able to display all of her qualifications on her business cards. However, Thomas has offered no evidence to demonstrate that any of the allegedly harassing conduct was because of her religion or that it was sufficiently severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of her employment.
For example, Thomas first claims that co-workers' questions about her faith and her subsequent exclusion from office birthday parties created a hostile work environment; however, the record establishes that Thomas was willing to discuss her faith with her co-workers and that questions about her religion did not offend her. The record also demonstrates that, contrary to Thomas contention, she was not excluded from office birthday parties, rather she herself decided not to attend these parties due to her religion. To be sure, the record reveals that when a co-worker told Thomas that another Jehovah's Witness used to come to the office parties, in an attempt to persuade Thomas to attend, Thomas simply walked away from the conversation. Additionally, the undisputed facts demonstrate that Thomas' co-workers never criticized Thomas for choosing not to attend the parties. ... Therefore, the record is devoid of evidence to support Thomas' contention that allegedly harassing conduct was because of her religion or that it was subjectively and objectively hostile.
Next, Thomas claims she was subjected to a hostile work environment because Finnegan was "undermining or sabotaging" her work. However, even if Thomas could establish that Finnegan was "undermining or sabotaging" her work, she offers no evidence to support the inference that Finnegan was "undermining or sabotaging" her work based on her religion. In fact, the record reveals that Thomas did not mention her religion at all when she complained to Hemmerling about her co-workers, but instead maintained that her co-workers undermined her work because they disagreed with her assessment of the proper treatment and referrals for certain officers. Because the record is devoid of evidence to support Thomas' speculation that Finnegan's motivation for undermining her work was because of her religion, she can not maintain a claim of hostile work environment based on Finnegan's alleged conduct.
Thomas also claims that she was subjected to a hostile work environment because Hemmerling made two negative remarks about her religion. Although disputed by Hemmerling, Thomas asserts that Hemmerling made the first remark in May 2007, after Thomas received authorization to leave early to care for her sick daughter. Hemmerling went to Thomas' office and said, "I will pray for you but not a stupid Jehovah prayer." Thomas asserts that Hemmerling made the second remark after she and Thomas had a work related disagreement. While walking away from Thomas' office, Hemmerling mumbled under her breath that Thomas was "a stupid Witness." The record does not demonstrate that Hemmerling, or any other employee, made any other derogatory comments regarding Thomas's religion. As previously noted, in order to establish a hostile work environment, Thomas must show the harassment to be "both subjectively and objectively so severe or persuasive as to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive working environment." ... Here, even accepting Thomas' assertions as true, the record supports that Hemmerling made only two isolated remarks to Thomas, as opposed to a "concentrated or incessant barrage," which would likely have a greater emotional impact.. ... Further, the remarks at issue were not made in public; if made, they were only made in Thomas' presence and one was barely audible as it was mumbled under Hemmerling's breath. Because Hemmerling's comments were infrequent and merely offensive as opposed to threatening and humiliating, Thomas has failed to establish that Hemmerling's two isolated remarks, over the period of her employment, were objectively so severe or persuasive as to create a hostile work environment. ...
Thomas next claims that she suffered from a hostile work environment because an unidentified co-worker, on two or three occasions, placed the remnants of a fish dinner in a garbage can outside her office. Thomas admits that she does not know who threw the fish into the trash can and has not offered any evidence, beyond her own assertion, to support her conclusion that the act of discarding fish into her trash can was critical of her religious beliefs. While Thomas may have felt that the act of discarding fish into a trash can outside her office was an affront to her religious beliefs, ... she has failed to set forth evidence to establish that this conduct was motivated by her religion or that a reasonable person would find this behavior objectively hostile.
Next, Thomas claims that was subjected to a hostile work environment when she received "less favorable" treatment than a co-worker when she asked for days off during her probationary period. The record indicates that Thomas wanted to take two days off in July, 2007, but did not file a written request to do so. Nonetheless, Thomas was allowed to take the time off and was not disciplined for her failure to follow proper procedure. Thomas asserts that another employee, who she does not identify, but who the court assumes is her co-worker Salinski, received more favorable treatment when she requested time off. However, the record reveals that Thomas does not know whether Salinski, unlike herself, submitted a written request for time off, and if not, whether she was disciplined for failing to follow proper procedure. Thomas also concedes that she does not know whether Salinski received pay while on vacation. Because Thomas can not even establish that Salinski was similarly situated and treated more favorably, she can not establish that she received "less favorable" treatment because of her religion. Additionally, Thomas' concession that she was not disciplined for her failure to file a written request for time off, and was still allowed to take the time off, establish that the treatment she did receive was not sufficiently severe to create a hostile work environment. Moreover, even if Thomas had established that she received "less favorable" treatment, Thomas has set for no evidence to indicate that her religion was in any way a motivating factor for the treatment she received.
Lastly, Thomas claims that she was subjected to a hostile work environment when she was not allowed to place a name tag outside her door and was not allowed to list all of her qualifications on her business cards. However, Thomas concedes that she does not know why Hemmerling removed her name tag from her door. And, the record reveals that police officers serving as occupational nurses could use the initials "PO, RN" on their business cards to reflect their status as sworn officers but that Thomas does not know how other civilian occupational nurses, such as herself, displayed their names on their business cards. In short, Thomas has provided no evidence to link the removal of her name tag or the changing of her business cards to her religion.
Finally, even if Thomas had established that the incidents she complains of were objectively and subjectively hostile, there is no basis for employer liability because the record reveals that she never complained to the City about the allegedly harassing behavior, despite the fact that the City had a complaint register where employees could file complaints and report harassment. ...Because Thomas has failed to submit evidence that she was harassed because of her religion, or that the harassment was sufficiently severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of her employment and create an abusive working environment, the City is entitled to judgment as a matter of law with respect to Thomas' hostile work environment claim.
Community Transport Services LLC was sold to a competitor in November 2007, yet the EEOC still went after the former owner for money. Possibly indicating that that former owner never responded to this lawsuit, in September 2011, the USDC issued a DEFAULT JUDGMENT awarding Dale Morant $23,435.02 as back pay and $10,000.00 as compensatory damages for Dale Morant's "emotional distress". Our guess is that this judgment has never been collected.
We were hoping that this lawsuit would go to trial. There was no reported indication that CTS had asked Morant to dress-up or to do anything else which would be considered participation in the Halloween carnival. Apparently, CTS simply was taking advantage of the Mall event to promote its services to the local community. We were hoping that CTS's attorney would ask Dale Morant if she would have refused to travel to the Mall and treat a mall employee or mall patron who was injured or became ill at the Mall during the Halloween carnival. We were hoping that CTS's attorney would ask Dale Morant if Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to shop at Malls or other retail stores during holiday seasons when Malls are decorated for Halloween and other holidays.
IN RE CLALLAM COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT was a 1995 Washington state arbitration which involved a Jehovah's Witness Employee who refused to erect a Christmas tree. The arbitrator ruled in favor of the JW Employee, because the Hospital failed to reasonably accommodate the JW Employee's religious beliefs, since other similar employees were available who could have performed this task.
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