A Michigan physician assistant with an exemplary employment record who was reportedly denied a religious accommodation by her hospital is suing in federal court after she was allegedly fired for non-compliance with certain diversity/inclusion requirements.
The plaintiff in the religious freedom case is Valerie Kloosterman, a devout Christian and mom of four who was terminated in August 2021.
Kloosterman was allegedly sent packing, in part, over pronouns.
According to the lawsuit, “Through a mandatory diversity training and hostile discussions that followed it, the newly branded University of Michigan Health-West attempted to compel Ms. Kloosterman to pledge, against her sincerely held religious convictions and her medical conscience, that she would speak biology-obscuring pronouns and make referrals for ‘gender transition’ drugs and procedures. Yet during the entire duration of her employment, no patient ever asked her for a referral for such drugs or procedures, and she never used pronouns contrary to a patient’s wishes.”
In a subsequent meeting with officials, they allegedly “denigrated her religious beliefs, called her ‘evil’ and a ‘liar,’ mockingly told her that she could not take the Bible or her religious beliefs to work with her, and blamed her for gender dysphoria-related suicides.”
On behalf of Kloosterman, the First Liberty Institute alleges in the nine-count, 56-page complaint, plus exhibit, that Michigan Health-West and its officials violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the U.S and Michigan constitutions, and Michigan civil rights law.
Kloosterman is seeking relief including reinstatement, lost pay, and a court order that would prohibit the hospital from engaging in further civil rights violations of this nature.
The lawsuit also claims that the hospital has a history of granting non-religious accommodations to staff members. You can review the entire filing embedded below and form your own conclusions.
“Defendants targeted Ms. Kloosterman for termination because she requested an accommodation for her religious beliefs. Defendants also violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, as incorporated against the states via the Fourteenth Amendment, when they granted secular accommodations to other employees regarding common drugs and medical procedures while failing to grant a religious accommodation to Ms. Kloosterman regarding much more rare drugs and medical procedures,” the lawsuit also contends.
Kloosterman told Fox News that she was “heartbroken” about what happened.
“I had 17 years that I spent with patients and families, coworkers who sometimes I spent more time with than I did with my own family. And they took that away. They took away the relationships that I had built up, and the people who trusted me for their care. It was over something that could have easily been accommodated based on the University of Michigan’s focus on being inclusive.”
According to the legal filing, which in any lawsuit is initially a one-sided rendition of the facts and circumstances as the plaintiff sees it, “If not for Ms. Kloosterman’s religious beliefs about gender and sexuality, she would not have been fired. The hospital officials’ explicit attack on her religious beliefs provides direct evidence that her termination was the result of unlawful religious discrimination.”
In a summary of the case on its website, First Liberty Institute, which specializes in defending religious liberty, noted the following.
At a time when we need as many healthcare providers as possible, it defies logic to purge compassionate and experienced people like Valerie just because of their faith. It is intolerant of Michigan Health to demand that Valerie and other medical professionals abandon their religious beliefs and medical ethics in order to remain employed. Valerie deserves her job back, so she can continue caring for her community and her patients.
UMH-West told Fox News that it respects the religious beliefs of employees and that Kloosterman’s claims “are without merit.”
Watch a report on the controversy aired by Fox 17, WXMI, of Grand Rapids, Mich.
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