Healthcare Workers Win $10.3 Million Settlement in Class Action Lawsuit over COVID Vaccine Mandate

The nation’s first class-action lawsuit for healthcare workers fighting COVID vaccine mandates has led to a $10.3 million settlement agreement, filed Friday, for the workers who were denied religious exemptions from the shot mandate and terminated when they did not comply.

Liberty Counsel settled the lawsuit on behalf of more than 500 current and former healthcare workers from NorthShore University HealthSystem in Illinois who argued they were victims of religious discrimination.

In the lawsuit, the healthcare workers argued they had been discriminated against because of their faith beliefs when they were punished for refusing to take a vaccine associated with aborted fetal cells.

“This is a historic, first-of-its-kind class action settlement against a private employer who unlawfully denied hundreds of religious exemption requests to COVID-19 shots,” Liberty Counsel noted in a statement.

The settlement must yet be approved by the federal district court.

According to the settlement terms, NorthShore will change its policy of “no religious accommodations” to one that does not discriminate against people of faith. As a result of the settlement, no position in NorthShore facilities will be barred from unvaccinated individuals with approved religious exemptions.

Those employees who were fired when they refused the vaccine because it violated their religious beliefs will also be eligible for rehire if they apply within 90 days of the district court’s final settlement approval.

The case against NorthShore on behalf of the healthcare workers began in October 2021 when Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter to the health system. NorthShore, however, continued its discriminatory practice of denying all religious exemptions and accommodation requests, leading to the class action lawsuit.

“We are very pleased with the historic, $10 million settlement achieved in our class action lawsuit against NorthShore University HealthSystem,” Liberty Counsel Vice President of Legal Affairs Horatio G. Mihet said in a statement.

Mihet, who served as chief litigation counsel, explained:

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.

Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel chairman, emphasized as well “the class-wide settlement providing compensation and the opportunity to return to work is the first of its kind in the nation involving COVID shot mandates.”

“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,” he added.

“Let this case be a warning to employers that violated Title VII,” he asserted. “It is especially significant and gratifying that this first class-wide COVID settlement protects healthcare workers. Healthcare workers are heroes who daily give their lives to protect and treat their patients. They are needed now more than ever.”

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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “COVID-19 Vaccine” by Governor Tom Wolf. CC BY 2.0.


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