HOUSTON — A Jehovah's Witness who suffers from spina bifida alleges Houston Methodist Hospital supervisors and staff harassed and retaliated against him because of his religion and disability, including forcing him to attend shift meetings called "prayer circles."
Abran Martinez filed a complaint Aug. 10 in Harris County District Court against Houston Methodist Hospital alleging liability, religious harassment and discrimination and other claims.
Martinez, a Jehovah's Witness who wears leg braces due to spina bifida and foot ulcers, began working at Houston Methodist Hospital as a seasonal worker in 2015 and eventually was hired for a permanent position as a patient care assistant, according to his complaint.
He alleges that he was forced to attend mandatory staff meetings at each shift which his director referred to as a "prayer circle." Martinez further alleges that participants had to hold hands and that the director held a cross with "crystals or rocks" during the meetings and would pass around the cross for participants to hold and speak. He also alleges that "religious advisors" would often participate in the meetings.
Martinez claims that in addition, he faced jokes about his disability, co-workers displaying offensive photographs of him in his unit, was denied reasonable accommodations and was even denied personal protective equipment while working with COVID-19 patients. Martinez was terminated on Feb. 24, 2021, according to his suit.
Martinez seeks monetary relief, interest and all other just relief. He is represented by Katrina Patrick of The Law Offices of Katrina Patrick in Bellaire.