A former Los Angeles County psychologist is suing her ex-employer, alleging she was wrongfully fired in 2022 in retaliation for not being vaccinated against the coronavirus, which she objected to doing on religious grounds.

The plaintiff is identified only as L.J. in the Los Angeles Superior Court whistleblower suit, which seeks unspecified damages. A county representative could not be immediately reached for comment on the suit brought Friday.

“Plaintiff is a devout practicing Christian with sincerely held religious beliefs, who attempts to live her life in accordance and obedience to God’s will,” according to the suit, which further states that the plaintiff “leads an active prayer ministry as a lay minister in worship life.”

L.J. was hired as a clinical psychologist in the county Department of Mental Health in August 2012 and received awards and recognition for her mental health presentations, the suit states. In August 2021, she requested a remote working accommodation and vaccination religious exemption accommodation forms, but did not receive them for several weeks, the suit states.

The plaintiff was approved for remote working in late October 2021, but the county sent her emails urging her to comply with the vaccination rule, according to the suit. She was suspended for five days without pay in December 2021 for her alleged non-compliance with the vaccine mandate, prompting her to file a discrimination complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the suit states.

The psychologist also appealed her discipline to the county’s Department of Personnel, but her argument was rejected in February 2022, and after the plaintiff’s assertion that she may have to file an additional EEOC complaint, she received a notice of intent to discharge her for alleged failure to comply with the vaccination policy, the suit states.

L.J. was never notified in writing of the outcome of her request for a religious exemption accommodation from the county’s worker vaccination mandate and she presented no threat to the health or safety of any county employee because she worked remotely from home, the suit states.

The plaintiff and her union representative attended a due process hearing, but she received a notice of termination anyway that became effective last March 31, the suit states. She has experienced severe anxiety and depression since losing her job and will likely have trouble finding comparable employment at age 50, the suit states.

The COVID vaccine does not prevent people from contracting or spreading the virus, but health officials say it reduces the likelihood of severe symptoms or death for those who are infected.

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