Michigan Health fired medical assistant for religious beliefs, attorney says: ‘Grave injustice’
Lawyers for a Michigan physician assistant who claims she was wrongfully fired because of her religious objections to transgender surgeries sent a complaint letter to her former employer this week asking for her reinstatement.
Valerie Kloosterman, a Christian who worked 17 years as a physician assistant for Michigan Health, was reportedly fired in 2021 by University of Michigan Health-West (UMH-West) after requesting a religious accommodation that would prevent her from having to using transgender pronouns or referring patients to transgender surgical procedures and medications.
“I think the reason we took this case is that there was a real injustice that was done here,” Jordan Pratt, senior attorney at First Liberty Institute, told Fox News Digital. “We have an extremely conscientious, caring and diligent healthcare worker who served for 17 years, and her mother and grandmother before her served in the same [University of Michigan] health care system.”
Pratt’s First Liberty Institute in Plano, Texas, sent a formal notice to UMH-West on Monday, saying the nonprofit health system not only wrongfully fired Kloosterman because of his religious beliefs, but had also denigrated his faith.
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Kloosterman was fired, according to the letter, because in 2021 she was required “to complete a training module containing statements regarding sexual orientation and gender identity that her Christian faith prohibited her from making.” .
“She could not complete the training unless she ticked the boxes confirming the statements,” the letter said. “There was no option as part of the training for her to explain her position or seek religious accommodation.”
“Prior to firing Ms. Kloosterman, Michigan Health blatantly denigrated her religious beliefs, attempted to coerce her to speak against her conscience and refer her to medical services that violate her conscience, discriminated against her for her religious beliefs and refused to reasonably accommodate his religious beliefs,” the letter also claimed.
Pratt told Fox News Digital that her client “was excellent at her job”, having received “stellar performance reviews” for her performance.
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“And she’s also extremely honest and straightforward,” he said. “She didn’t have to go to her employer and let them know there was a potential problem. Know that in 17 years a patient had never even asked her for a referral for these types of medical procedures, nor had she ever asked to use different pronouns.”
“She could have shut up, checked the boxes and moved on with her life,” Pratt continued. “Instead, she was honest, she sought religious accommodation, she very respectfully explained the basis for her religious conscientious objections and her medical objections to these procedures. And Michigan Health rewarded her with a dismissal. for all that.”
“So for all of her 17 years of service, where she has been praised for her ethics and treatment of patients, for her proactivity and candor in finding accommodation, Michigan Health – which everywhere proclaims that it is so diverse and inclusive – denigrates her religious beliefs, mocks her religious beliefs, and then fires her. That’s a pretty serious injustice, and it violates both federal and state law,” he said. -he declares.
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UMH-West announced earlier this year that it had been dubbed “the top performer for LGBTQ+ healthcare equity” by the Human Rights Campaign, a leading LGBT activist group.
“Our mission compels us to relentlessly advance the health of West Michigan – and there is no room in this mission to exclude anyone,” said UMH-West CEO, Dr. Peter Hahn, in the ad. “I’m proud of our team’s commitment to inclusion as one of our core values and their enthusiasm to continue our progress.”
Pratt said he has asked the University of Michigan Health System to respond by next week, after which they are prepared to take further legal action if they do not receive a favorable response.
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“The University of Michigan Health-West is committed to providing appropriate medical treatment for all patients and respects the religious beliefs of its employees,” Fox News Digital said in a statement. “Our organization does not discuss personnel issues and as such has no further comment.”