Out of the 12 books available to Nelli Parisenkova while she was employed at the nation’s largest chain of childcare centers in Studio City, California, five promoted LGBT lifestyles, which she avoided due to her Christian religion.
But a new supervisor, Katy Callas, allegedly decided Parisenkova’s refusal to read the books to toddlers was unacceptable and she was terminated.
The five book titles included Daddy, Papa, and Me; Love Makes a Family; and Mommy, Mama, and Me, which highlight same-sex couple marriages and families.
“Some people don’t agree with same-sex marriage,” said Paul Jonna, a Thomas More Society attorney. “They think it’s wrong and the last thing they want to do is to be reading same-sex marriage books to children.”
Parisenkova is suing Bright Horizons, which has more than 500 U.S. locations, for religious discrimination, wrongful termination in violation of public policy, harassment, constructive discharge, retaliation, and failure to prevent discrimination and harassment in Los Angeles Superior Court.
She names Callas, her former supervisor, as a defendant.
“Ms. Callas, who is lesbian, apparently took personal offense at Ms. Parisenkova’s religious beliefs,” the Oct. 18 complaint states.
“Ms. Callas called Ms. Parisenkova into her office, questioned her in an irate manner, told her that if she did not want to celebrate diversity this was not the place for her to work, gave her an administrative leave memo, escorted her outside with a security guard, and left her out in the 96-degree heat with no transportation.”
The lawsuit demands a jury trial and requests a declaratory judgment that the defendants violated Gov. Code 12940, which prohibits workplace harassment.
Since being let go, Parisenkova has been serving as a caregiver for her elderly mother-in-law and is helping Ukrainian refugees.
“She’s doing okay but her passion was the work she was doing at Bright Horizons,” said Jonna, who is representing Parisenkova. “She was there four years, and it distressed her a great deal to be discriminated against based on her religious beliefs.”
Parisenkova has a sincerely held Christian belief that marriage is a sacred covenant of lifelong union between one man and one woman however when she requested a religious accommodation, Bright Horizon allegedly refused.
“They could have asked other employees to read those books,” Jonna told The Epoch Times.