SACRAMENTO - A Seventh-day Adventist claims she was fired from her prison nursing job because she refused to work on Saturdays.
Dusanka Bodiroga said she had worked Sundays and holidays but had been able to avoid Saturday shifts at California State Prison, Sacramento since beginning work there in 2006.
"My religion is really important to me," Bodiroga said. "It's part of my life."
Last June, however, she was notified of a schedule change that required her to work Saturdays.
On June 14, 2013, Bodiroga delivered a letter to her supervisor from Pastor John Quedzuweit of the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church explaining the importance of the seventh-day Sabbath, where the faithful avoid employment and other secular activities from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.
Bodiroga said she was fired 11 days later for minor technical violations that had occurred the previous year, including failure to put her initials on a medical chart.
"Nobody gets fired for those reasons," she said.
Bodiroga is suing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) for intentional religious discrimination, retaliation and failure to provide religious accommodation.
The lawsuit, filed by an attorney from the Seventh-day Adventist Church State Council, seeks back wages and other monetary damages.
A spokesman for CDCR would not comment on the termination or resulting lawsuit.
Bodiroga said she was previously fired from a nursing job in her native Yugoslavia for the same reason, but points out the country was communist at the time.
She and her husband, Radmilo, emigrated to the United States as refugees in 1998.
"I came to this country believing I would have religious freedom and that I could express my faith," she said.