Hospital Will Pay $300,000 For Refusing to Grant Religious Based Exemption From Flu Vaccination

  10 January 2017

Saint Vincent Health Center will pay $300,000 constituting back pay and compensatory damages to six aggrieved former employees and provide substantial injunctive relief to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

 

In its lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that in October 2013, Saint Vincent Health Center (the Health Center) implemented a mandatory seasonal flu vaccination requirement for its employees unless they were granted an exemption for medical or religious reasons. Under the policy, employees who received an exemption were required to wear a face mask while having patient contact during flu season in lieu of receiving the vaccination. Employees who refused the vaccine but were not granted an exemption by the Health Center were fired, according to EEOC's lawsuit. From October 2013 to January 2014, EEOC alleged, the six employees identified in its complaint requested religious exemptions from the Health Center's flu vaccination requirement based on sincerely held religious beliefs, and the Health Center denied their requests. When the employees continued to refuse the vaccine based on their religious beliefs, the Health Center allegedly fired them. However, according to EEOC's lawsuit, during this same period, the Health Center granted fourteen (14) vaccination exemption requests based on medical reasons while denying all religion-based exemption requests. Read more here. 

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