TRENTON, N.J. (CN) – Describing bizarre harassment for practicing her faith, a woman who served 11 years as a New Jersey legislative secretary claims in court that she was accused of using Hindu curse against her supervisor, supposedly killing that co-worker’s husband.
Renee Doersch says she became a Hindu follower in 2009 and that the office caught wind of this because she was observing a vegetarian diet.
The complaint filed on Jan. 30 in Mercer County Superior Court calls out by name the supervisor and human-resources official who allegedly mistreated Doersch because of her religion, but neither are named as defendants. The complaint takes aim only at the New Jersey government’s Office of Legislative Sevices, where Doersch worked since February 2005.
Doersch says she had requested a transfer to a different office in late 2015 because the stress from her co-workers’ discriminatory conduct had become too difficult to bear.
Rather than accommodate Doersch’s medical condition, according to the complaint, the office fired her this past summer.
Doersch says her ordeal began in either 2012 or 2013 when a supervisor accused her “of ‘putting curses’ on herself and her husband, who had died in 2010.”
The director of HR allegedly took no action concerning such inappropriate comments.
Instead this man “repeatedly verbally attacked plaintiff by telling her that she was putting curses on her supervisor,” according to the complaint.
Doersch claims to have “responded that she had no knowledge of Hindu curses and she did not believe in curses.”
Things came to a boil in 2015, according to the complaint, when Doersch put a statue of the Hindu deity Shiva on her desk.
Shiva, also known as “the auspicious one,” is considered one of the most prominent gods in Hinduism and is thought to be the ultimate creator in certain Hindu sects.
Doersch says her supervisor with the dead husband complained that Doersch “was putting curses on her.”
This prompted a meeting, according to the complaint, where the HR director printed out search results from Google of the words “lndian curse gods.”
“The search documents revealed the identity of multiple Hindu deities, including Lord Shiva,” the complaint states.
Doersch says she insisted that Shiva is to followers of Hinduism what Jesus is to Christians, but that the HR director told her never to display the Shiva statue in the office again.
“Plaintiff responded by telling him that if she was not allowed to have a Lord Shiva statue on her desk then she did not want to see figurines of Jesus or Mary or any other religious items on other employees’ desks,” the complaint states.
She says the HR director threatened disciplinary action and told her to stop cursing her supervisor.
Other higher-ups were allegedly indifferent to Doersch’s treatment.
Lori O’Mara-Van Driesen, a spokeswoman for the Office of Legislative Services, has not returned a request for comment.
The Office of Legislative Services is a nonpartisan agency that provides primarily legal research and analysis for legislators.
Doersch is represented by Thaddeus Mikulski Jr. The Pennington, N.J., declined to comment on the case.