LOMA LINDA (CBSLA.com) — A nurse who worked at Loma Linda University Medical Center believes she has been the subject of discrimination because she practices Santeria.
Mariah Bravo showed KCAL9’s Crystal Cruz a series of supportive letters from her co-workers. “Mariah, you truly are the IV whisperer. Thank you for your awesome work.”
She saved the letters of praise, as well as her recent performance review.
“Doesn’t like to work with some nurse practitioners, so it makes work environment very stressful,” said part of her review.
Bravo — who started work at the hospital in November 2009 — said the review, given this past November, included remarks about her religion. Santeria is a blend of Cuban and African traditions mixed with Catholicism. The religion is known for costumes, trances, dance and animal sacrifices.
“It says, peer comment, Maria has on several occasions said she practices Santorini and has voodoo dolls and has a shed in her backyard for her sacrificial needs.”
The review also talked about her worshiping the Devil and that she uses a “Burn Book.”
Bravo answers that charge by denying devil worship, the burn book or any use of voodoo dolls. She adds, “My religion shouldn’t be a topic of conversation or for them to criticize.”
The nurse, who proudly wears religious beads and bracelets, told Cruz she decided it was best for her to go on leave from work because she feels discriminated against, specifically by one of her supervisors.
Loma Linda University Medical Center is a Seventh-day Adventist organization. She believes the bad reviews stem from her religious beliefs and from a spat she had with a supervisor about lunch schedules.
“They were telling me that my coworkers were saying that I was explosive, that I was lazy,” says Bravo.
The nurse says she is anything but.
“This was 2013, it says Mariah is always ready to help out one of her colleagues,” says Bravo. “This one is 2012, Mariah is very confident and has a good sense of humor.”
A spokesperson from the hospital would not comment on camera, instead sent Cruz a statement that reads: “The Medical Center cannot comment on personnel matters. Loma Linda Medical Center is committed to providing a work environment that is free of unlawful discrimination and harassment.”
Bravo does not plan on returning to work — she’s on Workman’s Comp due to stress — and says she’s filed a lawsuit against the hospital.