than 300 health workers have complained to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department over the last month, saying that their religious or conscience rights have been violated by their employer.
The complaints follow the creation of a new division within HHS that focuses on enforcing those rights and investigating complaints from employees who say their rights have been violated.
For example, a nurse could file a complaint against their employer if they are coerced into participating in an abortion or disciplined for refusing to do so.
The new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division is located within the HHS Office of Civil Rights, and has received than 300 complaints since launching Jan. 18.
That compares to the 34 complaints HHS received from November 2016, before President Trump won the election and before the division opened.
“We’ve announced to the world that we’re open for business and the public is responding,” Roger Severino, the director of the Office of Civil Rights, said in a statement to The Hill.
In the past, the Office of Civil Rights has primarily focused on enforcing anti-discrimination and privacy laws.
HHS officials said the new division was necessary so health workers do not have to violate their religious or moral beliefs to do their jobs.
“No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one’s deepest moral or religious convictions, and the new division will help guarantee that victims of unlawful discrimination find justice,” Severino said during the announcement in January.
Officials argued these rights weren’t enforced during the Obama administration and it did not investigate such complaints.
Violations can result in a service provider losing government funding.
Opponents argue, however, the protections could become a license to discriminate against women, gay and transgender people.