Nashville healthcare company failed to accommodate nurse's religious beliefs, EEOC says

Wellpath, the nation's largest for-profit healthcare provider for correctional facilities, violated federal law by refusing to accommodate a nurse's religious beliefs, according to a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit filed Sept. 14.

Wellpath hired the nurse to work at a correctional facility in San Antonio. Before starting the job, the nurse told a human resources employee at Wellpath that her religious beliefs as an Apostolic Pentecostal Christian require her to dress modestly and wear a scrub skirt instead of scrub pants, according to the lawsuit. 

The lawsuit claims Nashville, Tenn.-based Wellpath denied the request for this accommodation and rescinded the nurse's job offer, even though the nurse had worn a skirt at other nursing jobs in correctional facilities.

Wellpath violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on religion and requires employers to reasonably accommodate sincerely held religious beliefs, the EEOC alleges. The commission sued after settlement talks with Wellpath failed.

The lawsuit seeks back pay, injunctive relief, and compensatory and punitive damages for the nurse.

"Wellpath prohibits discrimination in violation of law, including based upon religion, and takes its obligations to provide reasonable accommodations very seriously," the company said in a statement to Becker's. "Wellpath engaged in no wrongdoing and trusts that the facts of the case will evidence the same. Unfortunately, Wellpath can provide no further comment due to the active litigation of this matter."

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