Lizzy Mathews, a 65-year-old Indian American nurse in Colorado, is suing the Denver Health Medical Center, alleging she was fired because she supports President Donald Trump.
Mathews, of Lakewood, also brought the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Denver against Kelly Torres, nursing manager, and Marc Fedo, director of acute nursing, according to a Denver Post report.
The lawsuit filed by Denver attorneys Francis Culkin and Karen Larson seeks her job back along with back pay and punitive damages for emotional pain and suffering, the report said.
Mathews had worked at the hospital for nearly three decades following the completion of her nursing degree at the Hamidia Medical College Hospital in Bhopal, India. She also studied psychiatric nursing at the Front Range Community College, the report said.
According to the lawsuit, no other employee was disciplined for talking politics and political discussions were common among employees and patients, the publication added.
The nurse was helping a patient in September 2016 when the patient, a former high-ranking employee at Denver Health, reportedly asked Mathews about her thoughts on the presidential election.
Mathews responded by declaring that Donald Trump would win and she was “praying for him,” according to the report.
The patient replied by saying, “Oh no, I don’t want him to be,” the Post said, citing the lawsuit.
Three days later Torres called Mathews and said a patient had complained about her conversation about the election, the lawsuit said, according to the Post.
Torres asked, “Did you ask (the patient) to read the Bible?” which Mathews denied, it said.
Despite her reply, Torres fired Mathews while they were on the phone and added that Mathews didn’t work enough hours, the report added.
Fedo approved the termination and said Mathews was ineligible for rehire, the lawsuit says, according to the Post.
According to the lawsuit, Mathews’ supervisors approved her hours. The only document addressing why she was fired said she was terminated for “other reason,” it said.
Mathews did not see the document until Jan. 24, 2017, according to the report.
Mathews complained to the Equal Employment Occupation Commission on March 1, the publication said.
“In commenting about the outcome of the election in 2016, Mrs. Mathews was engaging in the constitutionally protected activity of free speech,” the lawsuit said, according to the report.
Mathews spoke as a private individual and her termination was retaliation for her protected right to free speech, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit also claims Mathews was discriminated against because she is Asian/Indian, the report noted.