NEWARK, N.J. — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys representing 12 pro-life nurses filed a motion for an emergency court order Friday against the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. In violation of an existing court order, UMDNJ is attempting to force the nurses into meetings that would impose discriminatory job “transfer” and other “changes” to their employment solely because of their objections to helping with abortions.
“These pro-life nurses shouldn’t be bullied into employment discrimination that is forbidden both by federal law and a court order,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “The hospital is threatening to impose discriminatory transfers or changes in the employment conditions for these nurses because of their religious and moral objections to abortion. Such discrimination against pro-life nurses violates state and federal law, the court’s order in this case, and even the hospital’s own public statements saying that no nurse must assist in procedures to which they object.”
A letter from the hospital to the nurses requires them to attend mandatory meetings on or before Nov. 23 to discuss potential “changes in duties, changes in scheduling, and/or transfer to another nursing position….” A temporary restraining order issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on Nov. 3 prohibits the hospital from making discriminatory employment changes until the court has a chance to consider the case. A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 5.
The hospital’s letter frames the threatened changes as “reasonable accommodations,” but the ADF motion explains that, because conscience rights regarding abortion are paramount in the law, “the underlying laws in this case do not allow employers to negotiate ‘reasonable accommodations’ in the abortion context, and this Court’s Temporary Restraining Order does not either.”
ADF attorneys are asking for a new temporary restraining order that will prevent the hospital from forcing the nurses into meetings that impose changes to their employment. In addition, ADF is asking the court to hold the hospital in contempt of the court’s existing order.
Demetrios K. Stratis, one of nearly 2,100 attorneys in the ADF alliance is local counsel in the case, Danquah v. University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Stratis is with the firm Ruta, Soulios & Stratis, LLP.
- Pronunciation guide: Bowman (BOH’-min), Stratis (STRAH’-tis)
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.