Have you experienced discrimination?
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights Complaint Information
You may file a complaint under the Federal Health Care Provider Conscience Protection Statutes if you believe you have experienced discrimination because you:
- Objected to, participated in or refused to participate in specific medical procedures, including abortion and sterilization, and related training and research activities
- Were coerced into performing procedures that are against your religious or moral beliefs
- Refused to provide healthcare items or services for the purpose of causing, or assisting in causing, the death of an individual, such as by assisted suicide or euthanasia
What are the specific requirements of the federal healthcare provider conscience protection laws?
Covered entities may not, if it would be contrary to the individual’s or healthcare entity’s religious beliefs or moral convictions:
- Require the individual to participate in sterilization or abortion;
- Require the entity to make its facilities available for sterilization or abortion;
- Require the entity to provide personnel to participate in sterilization or abortion;
- Discriminate against any physician or healthcare personnel in employment or staff privileges because the individual participated in or refused to participate in sterilization or abortion;
- Discriminate against any physician or healthcare personnel in employment or staff privileges because the individual participated in or refused to participate in any lawful health service or research activity;
- Deny admission to or otherwise discriminate against any training program applicant (including applicants for internships or residencies) because of the applicant’s reluctance or willingness to participate in sterilization or abortion; or
- Discriminate against any individual or institutional health care entity that does not train in the performance of abortions or provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortion.
Covered entities must:
- Deem accredited any postgraduate physician training program that would be accredited, but for the reliance on an accrediting standard that (regardless of whether such standard provides exceptions or exemptions) requires an entity to perform abortions; or provide training for abortions.
What can you do about discrimination?
Seek legal help
Seek Legal Counsel
If you have experienced discrimination because of your convictions, a wise approach is to refrain from making any statements or taking actions until you obtain legal counsel.
However, even if you have already taken action and even if the discrimination occurred in the past, you may still be able to seek justice through the legal system.
Each of the legal organizations below has worked with Freedom2Care to defend freedom of faith, conscience and speech. They can help you sort out your best course of action:
Alliance Defending Freedom
The Alliance Defense Fund is a pro-life law firm that defends the sanctity of life and the right to practice life-affirming medicine throughout the United States. Among its many conscience rights cases, in 2011 ADF successfully required Vanderbilt University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to stop requiring health personnel to assist in abortions, and also represented the Christian Medical Association in a winning case to uphold a state law protecting the conscience rights of pro-life health professionals. ADF offers free advice and representation through its hotline: 1-800-TELL-ADF.
Becket Law is a non-profit, public-interest legal and educational institute with a mission to protect the free expression of all faiths. Becket exists to vindicate a simple but frequently neglected principle: that because the religious impulse is natural to human beings, religious expression is natural to human culture. We advance that principle in three arenas-the courts of law, the court of public opinion, and the academy-both in the United States and abroad.
To discuss an existing or potential legal matter, please contact our Legal Assistants via email at email@example.com. Include your full name, your contact information, a brief summary of your situation, and a specific statement of the assistance you seek. We prefer email correspondence, but if email is unavailable to you, please call (202) 349-7220. We respond to intake requests as our schedule allows. Due to court schedules and other time commitments, it may take us several business weeks to respond to your request. Note that we do not respond directly to plaintiffs in land use matters. Please have your attorney contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
200 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20036
Business Hours: 9am-6pm M-F
Bioethics Defense Fund
Bioethics Defense Fund (BDF) is a public-interest law firm whose mission is to advocate for human dignity in law, science and medicine. BDF provides legal expertise, policy strategy and professional education on the issues of healthcare rights of conscience, abortion and its impact on women, human cloning/destructive human embryo research, and end of life issues including physician-assisted suicide and healthcare rationing.
Christian Legal Society
Christian Legal Society (CLS) is a nationwide fellowship of Christians committed to acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with their God (Micah 6:8). Founded in 1961, CLS defends the religious liberties of all Americans in the legislatures and the courts and serves those most in need in our society through Christian Legal Aid. By inspiring, encouraging, and equipping Christian lawyers and law students, both individually and in community, to proclaim, love, and serve Jesus Christ through the study and practice of law, the provision of legal assistance to the poor and needy, and the defense of the inalienable rights to life and religious freedom, we are fulfilling the command of Micah 6:8 and ensuring the next generation of Americans has the same opportunities to share their faith in community. If you have questions or comments, please contact us at:
The Law of Life Project
The Law of Life Project would like to participate in providing legal counsel without charge in response to inquiries from individuals and organizations reporting cases of conscience-related discrimination. For more information, visit www.lawoflifeproject.org. FRC Building, Suite 521 • 801 G. Street, N.W. • Washington, D.C. 20001 • 202.587.5652
Life Legal Defense Foundation
Life Legal Defense Foundation is a public interest non-profit law firm that defends the civil rights of pro-life advocates, and is committed to protecting the individual freedoms of health care professionals. LLDF recently presented a training addressing the conscience rights of medical professionals entitled Do No Harm. Information about the training is available at lldf.org. At the end of March in San Francisco, California, LLDF will co-sponsor Make Straight the Pathway, a conference addressing current issues in health care, including conscience rights. Details will be available on LLDF’s website soon.
If you are in need of legal assistance, please do not hesitate to call: 707-224-6675. Life Legal Defense Foundation P.O. Box 2105. Napa, CA 94558.
Report to HHS
Nonprofit Legal Firms
The non-profit, public interest legal foundations below typically provide counsel without cost to clients.
How to File an HHS Conscience Complaint
Filing a complaint is a simple, straightforward proposition: You tell your story of what happened--who, what, when, where.
Maybe as a result of conscience or relgious faith issues, you were:
- pressured to participate in a conscientiously objectionable action or referral;
- denied privileges;
- denied admission to an educational or training program;
- denied tenure;
- subjected to any other form of discrimination based on your conscience and religious convictions.
Even if your story occurred decades ago, you can still report it, since investigating conscience discrimination cases is not legally constrained by a lapse of time.
No need for legalese, no complicated forms. You can file a complaint with the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights—online or via mail, fax, or e-mail.
Learn more about how to file a complaint.
More HHS Resources
- Conscience Protections
- Religious Freedom
- Filing a Complaint
- HHS Conscience and Religious Freedom Division
- Regulation for the Enforcement of Federal Health Care Professional Conscience Protection Laws
- Your Rights Under the Federal Health Care Professional Conscience Protection Laws
- Enforcement of the Federal Health Care Professional Conscience Protection Laws
Report to EEOC
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) protects applicants and employees from religious discrimination in hiring, firing, promotions, training, wages, and benefits, as well as from a hostile work environment. Title VII also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person for complaining about discrimination, filing a charge of discrimination, or participating in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law requires that employers reasonably accommodate applicants’ and employees’ sincerely-held religious observances and practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.
Filing A Charge of Discrimination With EEOC
If you believe that you have been discriminated against at work because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information, you can file a Charge of Discrimination. A charge of discrimination is a signed statement asserting that an employer, union or labor organization engaged in employment discrimination. It requests EEOC to take remedial action. Read Here >>