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Health Care Workers Denied COVID Vaccine Religious Exemptions Will Be Paid $10.3 Million

hospital workers celebrating

NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore), which operates six hospitals in the Chicago area, agreed to pay approximately $10.3 million to employees who were discriminated against and denied religious exemptions from the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in an historic class action settlement against a private employer.1 2 3

Liberty Counsel filed a class action lawsuit against the healthcare provider in federal court, together with a motion for a temporary restraining order and injunction after Northshore refused to comply with an October 2021 demand letter requesting religious exemptions for about 523 employees. Approximately 204 of the employees agreed to take the COVID vaccine despite their religious beliefs and 269 resigned or were fired for their refusal to violate their religious beliefs and take the shot.4 5

The employees alleged that almost all COVID vaccine religious exemption requests were initially denied and, when a few religious exemptions were eventually granted, only remote work was offered as an accommodation, which is not suited for many healthcare positions. NorthShore ignored the employees offers to be regularly tested, wear masks and report if they had symptoms instead of getting the vaccine.6 7

Class Action Settlement Agreement Signed

The class action settlement agreement signed by both parties stipulates that employees who were fired or forced to resign when they refused to take the novel vaccine will receive approximately $25,000 each, while employees who took the shot in order to keep their jobs despite their religious beliefs, will get about $3,000 each. The 13 lead plaintiffs expect to get an additional $20,000.8

Employees who lost their jobs for failing to take the controversial vaccine may apply to be rehired with their religious exemption request granted and all previous benefits and seniority intact, as long as they reapply within 90 days.9 While NorthShore has not admitted to any wrongdoing, the hospital agreed to end their policy of denying all religious exemptions and will no longer discriminate or retaliate against employees who request religious exemptions or accommodations to vaccination. Rather, NorthShore will evaluate religious exemption requests and if approved, offer accommodations in compliance with federal law.10 11

Liberty Counsel Vice President Horatio G. Mihet said:

We are very pleased with the historic, $10 million settlement achieved in our class action lawsuit against NorthShore University HealthSystem. The drastic policy change and substantial monetary relief required by the settlement will bring a strong measure of justice to NorthShore’s employees, who were callously forced to choose between their conscience and their jobs. This settlement should also serve as a strong warning to employers across the nation that they cannot refuse to accommodate those with sincere religious objections to forced vaccination mandates.12

Title VII Protections Do Not Pause for COVID-19

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, protects employees from religious discrimination in the workplace. Employees who inform their employer that their sincerely held religious beliefs prevent them from complying with a mandatory work requirement are protected from discrimination and retaliation in the workplace under Title VII. Employers have an affirmative obligation to seriously consider the request, enter into good faith talks and offer appropriate accommodations.13

Liberty Counsel alleges that NorthShore’s actions violated Title VII when they did not consider each religious exemption individually and provide reasonable accommodations to workers with sincerely held religious beliefs.14 15

In response to the settlement, labor and employment attorney Margo Wolf O’Donnell said:If there is a vaccine mandate, it’s important that requests for exemptions, whether they be religious or medical exemption requests, they be considered on a case-by-case basis. Employers still can have vaccine mandates. I just think they need to be implemented appropriately.16

The plaintiffs also alleged that NorthShore’s COVID-19 vaccine policy was contrary to the Illinois Health Care Rights of Conscience Act17 and federal law regarding vaccines approved for Emergency Use because employees were not allowed to decline the vaccine. Federal law provides:

[A]s a condition of receiving authorization for Emergency Use, all individuals to whom the product may be administered are given the right to accept or refuse administration of the product.18

NorthShore said of the settlement, “We continue to support systemwide, evidence-based vaccination requirements for everyone who works at NorthShore—Edward-Elmhurst Health and thank our team members for helping to keep our communities safe.19

Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel Matt Staver warned:

This settlement should be a wake-up call to every employer that did not accommodate or exempt employees who opposed the COVID shots for religious reasons. Let this case be a warning to employers that violated Title VII. It is especially significant and gratifying that this first classwide COVID settlement protects health care workers. Health care workers are heroes who daily give their lives to protect and treat their patients. They are needed now more than ever.20


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Click here to view References:

1 Christian Doctors, Nurses Win $10.3 Million Lawsuit After Hospital Denied COVID Shot Exemption. LifeNews Aug. 1, 2022.
2 Health Care Workers Settle COVID Shot Mandate for $10.3 Million. Liberty Counsel July 29, 2022.
3 Pandolfo C. Illinois hospital system to pay $10.3 million in settlement with workers over COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Blaze Aug. 1, 2022.
4 Doe 1, et al, v. NorthShore University HealthSystem. Case: 1:21-cv-05683 Document #: 107-1 July 29, 2022.
5 Jane Does 1-14 v. Northshore university HealthSystem. Case: 1:21-cv-05683 Document #: 1 Oct. 25, 2021.
6 Schencker L. NorthShore agrees to pay $10.3 million settlement in COVID-19 vaccine lawsuit over religious exemptions. Chicago Tribune Aug. 2, 2022.
7 Jane Does 1-14 v. Northshore university HealthSystem. Case: 1:21-cv-05683 Document #: 1 Oct. 25, 2021.
8 Christian Doctors, Nurses Win $10.3 Million Lawsuit After Hospital Denied COVID Shot Exemption. LifeNews Aug. 1, 2022.
9 Doe 1, et al, v. NorthShore University HealthSystem. Case: 1:21-cv-05683 Document #: 107-1 July 29, 2022.
10 Schencker L. NorthShore agrees to pay $10.3 million settlement in COVID-19 vaccine lawsuit over religious exemptions. Chicago Tribune Aug. 2, 2022.
11 Doe 1, et al, v. NorthShore University HealthSystem. Case: 1:21-cv-05683 Document #: 107-1 July 29, 2022.
12 Health Care Workers Settle COVID Shot Mandate for $10.3 Million. Liberty Counsel July 29, 2022.
13 Hendler C. 1964 Civil rights Act protects Some healthcare Workers with Religious Objections to employer Flu Shot Mandates. National Vaccine Information Center Aug. 22, 2019.
14 Schencker L. NorthShore agrees to pay $10.3 million settlement in COVID-19 vaccine lawsuit over religious exemptions. Chicago Tribune Aug. 2, 2022.
15 Hajicik O. Denying Religious Exemptions To Covid Jab Is Costing One Hospital $10M In Legal Settlement. The Federalist Aug. 4, 2022.
16 Schencker L. NorthShore agrees to pay $10.3 million settlement in COVID-19 vaccine lawsuit over religious exemptions. Chicago Tribune Aug. 2, 2022.
17 Jane Does 1-14 v. Northshore university HealthSystem. Case: 1:21-cv-05683 Document #: 1 Oct. 25, 2021.
18 Hajicik O. Denying Religious Exemptions To Covid Jab Is Costing One Hospital $10M In Legal Settlement. The Federalist Aug. 4, 2022.
19 Schencker L. NorthShore agrees to pay $10.3 million settlement in COVID-19 vaccine lawsuit over religious exemptions. Chicago Tribune Aug. 2, 2022.
20 Health Care Workers Settle COVID Shot Mandate for $10.3 Million. Liberty Counsel July 29, 2022.

13 Responses

  1. This is very good news for one location. The 33,000+ NY health care workers who were fired have been forgotten.

  2. Not a fan of this decision. Special rights for religions is fundamentally unfair most of the time especially in this case that they get to spread Covid “as a right” to people who I think more have a right to not get Covid and to go to hospitals that are safe! Seems the law was on their side in that this was technically an emergency use situation – was the only reason they won.
    You are so vulnerable when you go to a hospital. Maybe the 25 million saved a few lives and was worth the payoff.

    1. Except it has been proven that people can spread covid whether vaccinated or not. So the rights of others is a moot point.

    2. There is no information that shows that vaccinated people transmit the disease less than unvaccinated. It is well known and acknowledged that it does not prevent transmission, it is even part of the description of these medicines.
      Further, many epidemiologists are concerned that the vaxxes, because they help people have no symptoms (and that might be a good thing), nevertheless these folks will circulate normally, and be an unknowing and major vector of spreading the disease. This might be one more reason that the Omicron versions etc have been so contagious, because the infected people did not (still do not) know they are contagious.

    3. This happened to my sister in Georgia. Does anyone know of anyone working on a lawsuit there that could help her?

    4. If you still think this drug prevents the spread of Covid, you haven’t been paying attention. It doesn’t prevent you from getting Covid and doesn’t prevent the transmission of Covid. This drug is only called a vaccine because they changed the definition to suit their agenda. So many health care workers have refused this drug because they have a front row seat in observing what this is doing to people’s health. I’m thrilled these people won their case.

    5. “special rights” for religions?
      It’s called FREEDOM OF RELIGION.

      one more time, for those in the back seats:
      It sounds as if you believe that this “shot” being given actually is giving protection; if so, then you should have zippo problems with anyone choosing to not be “shot.”

      FREEDOM OF VACCINATION CHOICE, NO . . . MATTER . . . WHAT!

      1. I have a problem with vaccine exemption for religion and not for just matter of opinion. You shouldn’t have to be religious to get exempted, and otherwise have to go against your ideas of what is safe. It makes no sense.

        But your point that if the vaccine works then just get it and stop worrying about what others do – is real.

        I think there was a short time period when health care workers could get vaccinated and the public couldn’t. There was also a time when the shot seemed to work against the current variant like 95% prevention so you did help not spread it by being vaccinated. Yes now I’m not so sure about how much the vaccine might prevent you from being a spreader but the vaccine can be taken by anyone so forcing it is not reasonable

  3. this is a PITTANCE
    and 3,000 pieces of silver to sell your soul? wow!

    FREEDOM OF VACCINATION CHOICE . . . NO . . . MATTER . . . WHAT!

    p.s. indeed, this seems NOT a vaccination but is being called such

    Praise Almighty God From Whom All Good Things Flow!

  4. I feel I have NO right to decide what “religious” means, nor do I get to judge anyone who decides those shots violate his/her religious beliefs. Or for that matter, infringe upon those who fear the side effects an experimental vaccine may cause down the road. There will always be those who will not act honestly and say it violates their religion when they do not actually practice anything. So is this really anything NEW within the human race? And who gets to decide which religions fit the criteria for accepted religions? We have freedom of religion in this country because the founding fathers realized no one should infringe upon your religion or halt you from practicing what you believe because all are created equal. That means those who are atheists have equal rights as well. Get the shot if you want. No one should judge you either way. Or give you special status for just doing what keeps you safe. Yes, once you were told you were acting for the greater good. How truthful was this?
    Even some of those who have been boosted twice get Covid, and some sadly die. The vaccine mantra was “for the greater good,” or so you would not be “unAmerican” (Biden) and it was a lie: it did not stop you from getting or spreading it. The CDC, Fauci and others should have done their research before throwing around misinformation that probably injured some who believed their loved ones were safe because they were vaccinated. Just recall before the vaccines appeared, those health workers were called heroes, and then when the vaccine came out and some did not get it they were maligned and forced out of their jobs. All this anger and hatred towards others who are trying to help you based on their vaccine status? If you were bleeding to death would you first ask the attending doctor or EMT if he/she was properly vaccinated? For the die-hards who say you have to get the vaccine no matter what, just know there will be something down the road the government will try to force YOU to get. You may then decide you vehemently oppose it (for whatever reason) and the powers that be will say you have no exemptions. You have no freedom of choice. They will come for you if you don’t stand up for freedom of religion NOW and freedom to decide if you want vaccinations. I am glad this case was decided in the workers favor–perhaps it is a small precedent. I am happy to hear those once heroes are being heard and compensated. I did not get those shots; I lost friends who decided I was not safe to be around–and I followed all the other CDC guidelines. Sadly, some of those once-friends (two vaccines, two boosters) got multiple cases of Covid I later learned. One died. I was unable to get into many places because I did not have a vaccine passport. I still can’t get into a few places, like our local theatre because they want vaccines and masks–slow learners I guess. I do not want this contempt for the unvaccinated to happen to another living soul. Empathy and compassion is better than hollow threats and fear.

  5. Dispose of the mandate.
    Then their will be no religion discrimination.!

    We know this mandate was not to protect others.
    Their isn’t even a illusion of protecting others.
    The CDC say infected people could return to work in 5 days.
    Their is 46% that their contagious.
    A ?? person with out symptoms or know exposure is much less likely to be contagious.

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