Bakersfield, California — A former pharmacist at a Walmart in California is suing the company and her employers after she was fired for allegedly praying with a customer.
Anhue Doan, 59, states that she had been warned previously that she could not pray on the job, as she had been written up for admitting “that she would pray for customers and stat[e] to customers, ‘be healed.'”
However, last December, Doan says that the district manager brought her into his office and showed her a surveillance tape that captured what he believed was the pharmacist praying for a person that was crying. Doan denied that she was praying at the time, and said that she had just touched the person’s hand and was trying to console them.
Following the matter, Doan received a letter informing her that she was being terminated for “misconduct.”
Since her termination, the pharmacist says that she has tried to find other work, but has been unable to do so after a year of searching. She has now filed a lawsuit through her attorney, Darren Harris of Spray, Gould and Bowers.
In the lawsuit, Doan claims that she was first written up for praying with a customer shortly after she had sent an email to her supervisor, Duane Ferrone, expressing concerns about the behavior of other employees. The email stated that her co-workers were “not following DEA requirements for controlled substances, releasing controlled substances too soon, using cellular phones in the pharmacy, improperly opening sealed bags of narcotic medication … cashiers bagging medications without pharmacist supervision, [and] cashiers providing medication to customers without pharmacist supervision.”
To her dismay, Doan was the one who ended up getting in trouble because she was practicing religion on the job, and was told not to pray with customers again.
The lawsuit then alleges that “[i]n or about October 2011, defendants’ district manager, May, stated that he was assigned by defendants to investigate the store location at which plaintiff worked.” It was two months later when May confronted Doan with the surveillance tape, which had no sound, and informed the pharmacist that she would be terminated for her actions.
She believes that Walmart officials “surreptitiously resolved to replace [her] and terminate her employment” once they discovered that she was a Christian, and that they acted in retaliation against her for reporting her concerns about questionable behavior taking place at the pharmacy.
Randy Hargrove, a spokesman for Walmart, headquarted in Bentonville, Arkansas, wrote in a released statement following the filing of the suit this month that the company “has a zero tolerance policy with respect to harassment or discrimination, including religious discrimination.”
“We make reasonable accommodations for religious reasons,” he outlined. “We have not had an opportunity to review the lawsuit. We will thoroughly investigate the allegations that are being raised once we receive the complaint.”
Doan’s attorney says that the goal is simply to have Walmart acknowledge its wrongdoing, and to make a wrong right.
“What she hopes to accomplish is to make Walmart aware that this practice is illegal, and she hopes to recover damages for her significant lost wages — past and future — as well as emotional distress damages for what she has gone through, as well as the recovery of her attorney’s fees for having to file this action,” he told ABC News.
The pharmacist is asking for punitive damages for religious discrimination, failure to accommodate her religious beliefs, retaliation for refusal to participate in illegal activity, and wrongful termination.
Doan had been employed at the Bakersfield Walmart since 2006.
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