Court Refuses Discrimination Case
Associated Press, October 9, 2001
WASHINGTONThe Supreme Court refused Tuesday to
take an employee discrimination case involving a Mississippi hospital
counselor who refused to give advice to a lesbian client.
Sandra Bruff was dismissed by a hospital in 1996a firing she claimed had
to do with her religious objections to homosexuality.
The Supreme Court has agreed to review several employee discrimination
cases already this year, including an age discrimination case. Justices
declined without comment to accept Bruffs appeal.
Initially, a jury ordered North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo to pay
the counselor $2 million. Because of federal lawsuit limits, that was reduced
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reduced it to nothing, ruling that
the firing was justified. The court said the hospital made an effort to
accommodate Bruff with another position that would not conflict with her
"An employee has a duty to cooperate in achieving accommodation of his
or her religious beliefs, and must be flexible in achieving that end. Bruff
displayed almost no such cooperation or flexibility," the appeals court
Bruff worked in the hospitals employee assistance program. Companies
paid the hospital to provide counseling for their workers.
"The hospital is open to everyone. It does not want a medically needy
segment of the population to stay away from the hospital because of a fear of
discrimination," the hospital told the Supreme Court.
The homosexual client complained after Bruff refused to give her advice
about her lesbian relationship.
Bruff, who is a Christian, also contended that by asking her to counsel
clients on homosexual or extramarital relationships, the hospital was asking
her to violate state sodomy laws.
The case is Bruff v. North Mississippi Health Services, 01-210.
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