Religious Bias

by on May 9th, 2004

In Chicago, Emergency Medical Technician Stephanie Adamson, 30, has filed suit against her former employer claiming religious discrimination because she was fired after refusing to transport a woman to an abortion clinic. Superior Ambulance Services in Elmhurst dispatched Adamson to Mt. Sinai Hospital to pick up a patient for transport to a nearby clinic for an elective abortion.

“I just felt really strongly it was something that I couldn’t do,” said Adamson, a devout Christian who is adamantly anti-abortion. “It would be against everything that I believe in and everything that I support.”

On Adamson’s behalf, the American Center for Law and Justice filed the suit in U.S. District Court.

This type of case creates a significant dilemma for businesses. They face lawsuits if they discriminate based on religion during the hiring process AND they face lawsuits if they fire people for not doing their jobs based on religious beliefs.

Of note is that the circumstances of Adamson’s case are very unusual. Since her employer provides emergency services, incidents entailing the transport of patients to clinics for elective abortions have to be extremely rare. Given that, Superior Ambulance probably overreacted towards Adamson.

Nonetheless, even though the conditions of Adamson’s case are unique and rare, I suspect there are many other similar instances in society where religious beliefs conflict with job responsibilities. A recent example occurred in New York where a Sikh police officer was fired for refusing to remove his turban while in uniform. In that case, a judge ruled that the firing was religious discrimination and ordered the officer reinstated.

I foresee a future with heaps more headaches for businesses and society while the trial lawyers explore a whole new universe of paydays. Let the lawsuits commence.

Mike Pechar