Lizzy Mathews, a 65-year-old nurse in Denver, says she was fired for expressing support for President Donald J. Trump. She is now suing the Denver Health Medical Center.
Along with the hospital, Mathews is suing Kelly Torres, nursing manager, and Marc Fedo, director of acute nursing, in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Denver. With the lawsuit, she hopes to get her job back, and to recover back pay and punitive damages for emotional pain and suffering.
The lawsuit stems from her firing, described by Becker’s Hospital Review: The lawsuit claims she was the subject of discrimination after voicing her support for President Trump during the 2016 presidential election.
According to the lawsuit, Ms. Mathews, 65, was tending to a patient Sept. 10, 2016. The patient, who was previously a high-ranking hospital employee, reportedly asked Ms. Mathews who she thought would win the election. She replied she was “praying” for President Trump to win, the lawsuit states.
Three days later on Sept. 13, Ms. Mathews claimed she received a phone call from a hospital official who said she had received a complaint from the patient with whom Ms. Mathews spoke about the election.
The lawsuit states the hospital official proceeded to fire Ms. Mathews during the phone call because of her comment about President Trump and her unwillingness to work more hours as a part-time nurse, according to Fox-31 News. Ms. Mathews said she had previously spoken to the same hospital official about not being able to work more hours as a part-time employee because it would affect her Social Security benefits.
The lawsuit states the official document discussing her termination said she was fired for “other reasons.”
The Denver Post reports that it was Torres who called Mathews at home, telling her a patient had complained about her conversation about the election, the lawsuit said. Torres reportedly asked Mathews: “Did you ask (the patient) to read the Bible?” Mathews denied that she had. Still, Torres fired Mathews while they were on the phone, and Fedo approved the termination, later saying Mathews was ineligible for rehire, the lawsuit says.
Of the conversation with the patient, Mathews recalls in the lawsuit that when she said Trump would be president, the patient replied, “Oh no, I don’t want him to be.”
According to the lawsuit, no other employee was disciplined for talking politics, and that political discussions were common among employees and patients.
“In commenting about the outcome of the election in 2016, Mrs. Mathews was engaging in the constitutionally protected activity of free speech,” the lawsuit says.
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.
Mathews earned her nursing degree at the Hamidia Medical College Hospital in Bhopal, India, and worked at Denver Health for 27 years, according to the Post. Mathews went on to continue her education at the Front Range Community College where she studied psychiatric nursing.
I believe her 100%. I’ve experienced nearly the same from co-workers…who are happy to discuss “politics”… https://t.co/aKjupnlH1m
— RD Carrington (@rdcarrington) January 19, 2018