Monday, November 21, 2005
Alito Sez -- A Regular Feature
Now that the ugliness of last week is behind us, let me proceed to our first installation of "Alito Sez," a regular feature of this blog. While I know many of you are eager to hear what I think about abortion or detention, today instead I will be discussing the issue of wrongful termination over a first amendment issue: Shelton v. University of Medicine and Dentistry.
It’s true that at the end of the day I agreed that Ms. Shelton’s termination was legal, but employers should note: Ms. Shelton's actions threatened the lives of her patients (she refused to perform operations that she believed were abortions, when they were non-elective measures being taken to save women’s lives in a clinic that did not, in fact, perform elective abortions). Even so, she was given the option to sit out the surgeries as a general rule, and was only offered transfer after two separate women's lives were jeopardized by her refusal to scrub in. At that point, she was still offered transfer to another unit, and she was only terminated when she refused the accommodation. If you read her "letter" explainaing her views, it's further clear that she is, in legal jargon, a "crackpot."
So if you reading this, for example, are an employer thinking of firing an employee for something he has written, said, or done, think first about whether he (or she) caused the kind of life-threatening danger that Ms. Shelton did, and whether you have bent over backwards to accommodate him like the clinic did. This is of particular importance if you are a public employer.
So be very careful. I may be the judge hearing the case when it comes. Or the Justice.