A young Catholic immigrant who was fired from her job in healthcare for being unwilling to promote contraception may finally receive justice, thanks to the efforts of First Liberty Institute.
According to a press release shared with The Gospel Herald, First Liberty, the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans, on Wednesday filed a complaint on behalf of Alexia Palma charging her employers with religious discrimination.
The incident occurred in June 2016, when Palma, an immigrant from Guatemala, worked as a health educator at LCH, a clinic for low-income patients in Houston’s inner city.
“I emigrated from Guatemala to America as a child,” Palma said. “Finding this job, where I could serve those in need in my community, was my American dream come true. ”
While she taught a number of health classes, as a devout Catholic, Palma asked her supervisors if she could refrain from teaching a class about contraception, and instead show a video on birth control. Her supervisors agreed, and the arrangement worked for a while – until Palma was placed under new management.
A short time later, Ms. Amy Leonard, the Vice President of the Public Health Department at LCH, gave Palma an ultimatum – “put aside” her religious beliefs or be terminated.
According to First Liberty, Palma reminded Ms. Leonard that teaching the birth control class was less than 2% of her job, and requested an accommodation to allow her to continue showing the video or to allow another employee, who had volunteered to teach the class, to substitute teach the class for her. Nevertheless, despite her sterling work record, Palma was terminated.
“I really loved my job and my patients, but I couldn’t do what the company was asking,” Palma says. “Through my difficult childhood of abuse and abandonment, God has always been faithful to me, so I must be faithful to him. My faith comes first.”
Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute, called Palma’s firing “blatant religious discrimination”.
“The company gave Alexia an ultimatum – violate your faith or be fired,” he said. “That’s a violation of federal law and it is blatant religious discrimination. No one should be fired over their religious beliefs.”