Nursing home aide can proceed with federal religious discrimination claim, judge rules

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A nursing home activities aide allegedly fired over refusing to pray the rosary with a Catholic resident can proceed with a religious discrimination claim, a federal district court ruled this week.

The activities aide worked in Woodland Village Nursing Home Center in Diamondhead, MS, until September 2009. She refused to pray the rosary with a Catholic resident during an unscheduled shift, according to court records. The following week, she was fired.

According to court records, the supervisor told her “it doesn't matter if its [sic] against your religion, if you refuse it's insubordination.”

Woodland Village sought summary judgment on the plaintiff's claim, and said that she had four previous write-ups. The U.S. District Court, Southern District of Mississippi denied the nursing home's request on Sept. 4.

District Judge Halil Suleyman Ozerden wrote, “even though Plaintiff has failed to specify her religious affiliation or beliefs, she attests that her personal beliefs differ from what Woodland Village required in performing a rosary, and it was for this reason that she was fired. The Court finds that the record evidence is sufficient to create material fact questions with regard to these issues.”

Woodland and the plaintiff's attorney did not immediately return calls for comment.  

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