Ga. counselor fired for honoring professional, ethical obligations

ADF attorneys file suit on behalf of Christian counselor who acted in best interests of client
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

ATLANTA — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit Monday on behalf of a licensed counselor who was fired after referring a person seeking counsel with a same-sex relationship to a colleague.  Rather than attempt to provide a service that would conflict with her sincerely-held religious beliefs on homosexual behavior, Marcia Walden acted in the best interests of the potential client and referred her to another counselor; however, the counselee later filed a complaint that ultimately cost Walden her job.

“A woman shouldn’t lose her job for merely upholding the highest professional standards,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Brian Raum.  “It is unconstitutional to punish Walden for following her Christian faith, particularly when she made every effort to accommodate the needs of a potential client.  Referring her to another competent counselor instead of attempting to offer her own counsel in such a situation was the ethical thing to do for the person seeking help.  It’s egregious to be fired for honoring professional and ethical obligations.”

On Aug. 21, 2007, a woman employed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sought counsel from Walden, a counselor at Computer Sciences Corporation, regarding a same-sex relationship. Walden explained that the client’s needs would conflict with her religious beliefs and that, therefore, it would be unfair for her to serve as the woman’s counselor.  As a result, Walden referred the individual to a colleague.

After meeting with the client, Walden’s colleague told her that she had done “the right thing” by referring the woman to him.  However, the client later filed a complaint against Walden which led to an investigation and religiously-based questioning from Walden’s supervisors, including pressure to hide her religious beliefs from future clients.  She was later terminated as an employee.

A copy of the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, in Walden v. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is available here.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.  Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family. 

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