Nurse Claims Arizona Heart Hospital Violated Her Rights by Demanding "Unholy" Immunizations as Hiring Condition


An Apache Junction woman claims the Arizona Heart Hospital violated her right to religious freedom by demanding she be immunized as a condition of employment.

Melissa Allen, a licensed nurse, applied at the Phoenix hospital two years ago as a patient care assistant and was told by the "charge nurse" that she would be a good hire, court records state. At the time, Allen says she told the charge nurse about her religious beliefs.

Allen "professed her belief that her body is created in G-d's image and must not be defiled. As the divine architect, G-d designed the body to have an immune system, which must not be defiled by immunizations because they are a violation of G-d's supreme authority and, therefore, unholy."

Allen claims the nurse agreed to hire her despite those beliefs. (However, a letter of conditional employment signed by Allen and hospital staff states clearly she was required to show proof of hepatitis B and MMR vaccinations).

The hospital has a policy that allows religious exemptions for employees, but Allen says she was later told that she couldn't get an exemption. Though she was qualified in every other way, court records state, the hospital staff gave her an ultimatum: Get immunized or get lost.

Allen claims she turned down other job offers at the time, thinking she was going to be employed by the Arizona Heart Hospital. She filed suit last week, seeking compensatory pay -- and a job.

Like the post from last week about the Muslim jail guard who wanted to grow a beard, there seems to be some concern on the part of the employers for the safety of their employees. But with the long tradition of freedom of religion in this country, we're betting on the zealots.  

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.