May 2017 Church & State - May 2017

Calif. VA Chaplain Loses Discrimination Claim

  AU admin

A federal appeals court has rejected discrimination claims from a conservative Christian chaplain who stated her former employer, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), fired her because of her beliefs a decade ago.

Carmen Blair, who was hired as a part-time chaplain for the VA’s Los Angeles hospice in 2006, sued the VA in 2013 for religious discrimination. In her complaint, Blair claimed that she was discriminated against on the basis of religion because she was accused of making anti-Semitic remarks, and that a manager reported that she heard Blair say that non-Christian beliefs were “demonic,” among other things. Blair denied that either happened.

“Blair’s termination was the direct result of discriminatory and biased attitudes on the part of her treatment team towards her, as a conservative, Charismatic Christian, having nothing to do with her ability to perform her job,” a federal complaint Blair filed in 2013 read.

The VA, however, claimed that Blair was fired because of her job performance, not her religious beliefs, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found her case groundless. The court ruled that Blair did not provide enough evidence to point to religious discrimination as a valid claim but that the VA provided enough evidence to prove that she was performing poorly at her job.

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