"Be a social worker first, and a Catholic second." That's what a therapist claims she was told just before she was fired. Now she's taking her former employer to court.
Kathleen Lorentzen worked at HealthSource Saginaw where she provided a range of psychological counseling.
"She had an outstanding work record, with no complaints about her job whatsoever," says attorney Tyler Brooks of Thomas More Law Center, the organization representing Lorentzen. "In the summer of 2017, she had a gay couple referred to her for marriage counseling and decided that this was inconsistent with her sincerely held religious beliefs." Lorentzen, says Brooks, is a devout Catholic.
When Lorentzen went to her supervisor to ask that another therapist do the counseling, Lorentzen claims her supervisor became angry but later agreed to the change and directed Lorentzen to write a letter to that effect – which she did.
"She kind of thought that this was taken care of until she was called into a second meeting with that same supervisor and another supervisor from HealthSource where they then interrogated her about her religious beliefs," Brooks continues.
"When she tried to explain her beliefs and talk about the teachings of the Catholic Church on marriage, she was told by one of the men that she needed to be a social worker first and a Catholic second."
Not long after, Lorentzen received a letter in the mail saying she was being terminated in 30 days. The TMLC attorney explains harassment followed.
"After she was told she was being terminated, she was subjected to some pretty odd but very intimidating forms of harassment by one of these men in particular who decided he would become very physically intimidating towards Lorentzen," says Brooks.
"In one incident in particular, she was at a work station and he came up and sort of stood very close beside her and pushed into her in a way that she felt very uncomfortable with – and she could feel his body pressed against her. And it was so odd that the receptionist saw this and, once the supervisor left, asked Lorentzen: What's going on here? because the office had become so inhospitable towards Lorentzen."
The complaint was filed in federal court alleging discrimination under both federal and Michigan state law.
OneNewsNow contacted Plunkett Cooney law firm, the organization representing HealthSource Saginaw, and was provided the following response:
"HealthSource Saginaw steadfastly denies Ms. Lorentzen's fundamentally false allegations and is extremely disheartened by her choice to knowingly publish a work of fiction disguised as a legal pleading. Due to the fact that litigation is pending neither I nor HealthSource Saginaw will issue any public comment beyond this: HealthSource Saginaw is committed to prohibiting all forms of illegal discrimination and retaliation on its premises. It would not tolerate nor engage in acts similar to what Ms. Lorentzen has fabricated in her 21-page complaint. Ms. Lorentzen has mischaracterized the nature of her relationship with HealthSource Saginaw, provided false information about what occurred prior to the end of that relationship, and omitted several key facts as it relates to her particular actions and representations. We look forward to very aggressively defending this case and are confident that the judicial process will bring the truth to light and result in a judgment in Defendants' favor."