A Colorado nurse has filed a lawsuit saying she was fired over her support for Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Lizzy Mathews, 65, of Lakewood, filed a suit in U.S. District Court Denver on Jan. 11 against Kelly Torres, nursing manager, and Marc Fedo, director of acute nursing, at the Denver Health Medical Center. The suit calls for Mathews to get her job back, along with back pay and punitive damages for the emotional pain she has suffered since losing her job.
The lawsuit alleges Mathews' firing stems from a Sept. 10, 2016 incident, when she was attending to a patient who had once been a high-ranking employee at the hospital.
After the patient questioned Mathews on who she thought would win the presidential election, the suit claims, Mathews said she wanted Trump, and added that she was “praying for him.” The patient replied, “Oh no, I don’t want him.”
Mathews said she then received a call from Torres three days later, and was told that the patient had complained about her conversation about the election. Mathews was also questioned whether she asked the patient to read the Bible – a charge which she denied.
The suit says Torres then fired Mathews, claiming she did not work enough hours, even though her supervisors had approved them. Fedo approved the firing and said the nurse was ineligible to be rehired, the suit said.
“The Defendants’ act of terminating Mrs. Mathews from her employment without eligibility for rehire was motivated by Mrs. Mathews’ exercise of constitutionally protected conduct of association with her political views,” said the lawsuit, filed by Denver attorneys Francis Culkin and Karen Larson. “[These] actions caused Mrs. Mathews to suffer injuries that would chill a person of ordinary firmness from continuing to engage in such constitutionally protected activity.”
The lawsuit also states the only document addressing the termination says Mathews was fired for “other reasons” – something Mathews did not see until Jan 24, 2017. Mathews made a complaint to the Equal Employment Occupation Commission, where the case is still pending.
Mathews, who is Asian-Indian, also claims discrimination based on ethnicity.
“[Mathews’ supervisors] treated non-Asian/Indian employees more favorably, including but not limited to disparate discipline and with less scrutiny then that applied to Ms. Mathews that led to termination of her employment without eligibility for rehire based on race and national origin,” the lawsuit states.
In a statement sent to Fox News, Denver Health said it does not comment on pending litigation, but added it does not discriminate against any employee based on their race or ethnicity.
“As a public hospital, Denver Health has a proud history of diversity and inclusiveness and is welcoming to all,” the statement said. “We have staff members from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of beliefs and work diligently to ensure Denver Health continues to provide an environment in which everyone can feel comfortable delivering or receiving our world-class care.”