(CNSNews.com) -- The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) filed a federal lawsuit against HealthSource Saginaw, Inc., on behalf of social worker Kathleen Lorentzen who was fired, apparently, because her Catholic religious beliefs precluded her from providing marriage counseling to a homosexual couple.
In addition to HealthSource Saginaw, Inc., defendants Mark E. Kraynak and Mark Puckett are also being sued. The Thomas More Law Center contends in its May 11 filing that Lorentzen's civil rights were violated under federal law and Michigan law, that there was a breach of contract, tortious interference, and termination in violation of policy.
"Kathleen Lorentzen, a Catholic and licensed clinical social worker was told by her supervisor that she had to be 'a social worker first and a Catholic second,' and was fired because she refused to compromise the Catholic faith which teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman," said the TMLC in a press release.
"Mrs. Lorentzen had an exemplary employment record of providing psychological counseling for over 20 years to a diverse group of patients," said the TMLC. "But despite her outstanding record, her former employer, HealthSource Saginaw (“HealthSource”), located in Michigan, terminated her."
“This case shows that people of faith are under assault in the workplace," said TMLC Senior Trial Counsel Tyler Brooks. "The fact is, however, that Christians need not choose between their faith and their jobs. Despite what many would have us believe, discrimination against Christians is a civil rights violation that will subject employers to legal liability.”
In the summer of 2017, Lorentzen -- who worked under contract as an Outpatient Behavioral Therapist and had treated many patients for HealthSource since 2011 -- provided some counseling on two occasions. She then decided that, as a Catholic, she could not provide further "marriage" counseling to a gay couple because such unions are contrary to her religious and moral beliefs.
On Aug. 23, 2017, Lorentzen asked her supervisor, Mark E. Kraynak, "if she could refer the couple to another therapist in the practice because of the conflict with her religious beliefs," reads the lawsuit. "In response, Mr. Kraynak became very angry. Mrs. Lorentzen then excused herself and left the meeting."
On Aug. 29, 2017, Lorentzen "was summoned into a meeting with Mr. Kraynak and Colton Reed, HealthSource's outpatient manager," reads the lawsuit. "Mrs. Lorentzen was then interrogated in an aggressive and condescending manner about her faith and her work at HealthSource. During this exchange, Mrs. Lorentzen objected that she felt like she was being harassed and discriminated against because of her religion. Mr. Kraynak told Mrs. Lorentzen that eh had to be 'a social worker first, and a Catholic second.'"
When Lorentzen tried to her explain her views further by referencing certain clergy, Kraynak "hatefully said, 'They are just priests!'" reads the lawsuit.
On Sept. 6, 2017, Lorentzen received a letter form HealthSource's Program Executive Mark Puckett stating that she would be terminated in 30 days. After she received the letter, according to the lawsuit, Lorentzen "was subjected to a number of actions that undermined, embarrassed, and humiliated her" by Kraynak and Reed.
These actions reportedly included pushing Lorentzen, blocking her from walking down the hallway, and eavesdropping on her.
The lawsuit further states that when HealthSource's "medical director found out the actual reason Mrs. Lorentzen was leaving, he told Messrs. Reed and Kraynak that the gay couple seeking counseling could have simply been referred to another therapist and that they should not have terminated her without consulting him first."
The TMLC, on Lorentzen's behalf, is seeking a trial by jury on all claims, compensatory damages, past and future medical expenses, "damages for past and future mental and emotional distress," punitive damages, attorney's fees, tax costs of the legal action, and "other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper."
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on May 11, 2017.