Religious discrimination okayed by hospital seeking merger

City commissioners in Tarpon Springs, Fla., voted earlier this week to allow hiring to be based on religion at Helen Ellis Hospital, according to the St. Petersburg Times. The vote, which was 5-0, brings the hospital one step closer to finalizing its merger with Adventist Health System, which is associated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

"I'm looking at this as an opportunity, a great opportunity for our hospital to survive," said Commissioner Susan Slattery.

In addition to removing the clause barring religious discrimination, AHS will introduce other Seventh-day Adventist policies, including no work for non-emergency workers and no major medical procedures conducted from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, and no pork or shell fish on the cafeteria menu, the Times reports.

"Not having shellfish and pork in the cafeteria has nothing to do with the care of patients," said Christine Stewart, AHS communications director.

According to Stewart, religious affiliation with the Seventh-day Adventist Church is not required for employment or patient care.

Yet even without the clause, state and federal laws protect potential employees against discrimination of any kind, John Hubbard, a Tarpon Springs city attorney, told the Times.

For more:
- read the St. Petersburg Times article