EEOC: Nursing home erred in firing Jehovah's Witness

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Frontline, ProPublica slam assisted living sector in documentary airing tonight
Frontline, ProPublica slam assisted living sector in documentary airing tonight

A Michigan nursing home is being sued for allegedly firing a Jehovah's Witness nursing assistant after she asked for certain days off.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing Whitehall Healthcare Center of Ann Arbor on behalf of Bekki Heys, 30. The center offers skilled nursing services, rehabilitation, wound care, and hospice services.

Heys had asked for Wednesdays and Sundays off due to her religious beliefs, according to the lawsuit. However, according to the EEOC, when Heys said she could not work on Sunday, July 18, 2010, she was fired.  News of the lawsuit broke late Tuesday; it was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on Friday.

Lauren Gibbs, trial attorney for the EEOC's Detroit Field Office, said in a statement that Whitehall had a legal duty to accommodate an employee's sincerely held religious beliefs.

“Firing someone for asserting that right violates federal law against religious discrimination and only makes a bad situation worse,” Gibbs said.

This is the second recent lawsuit for Whitehall, as three former nursing aides are alleging they were fired after reporting patient abuse and neglect.