Hospital System Will Pay $10.3M to Resolve Class Action Over Mandatory COVID Vaccine Policy
August 03, 2022
Under a proposed settlement, North Shore University Health System would pay $10,337,500 to compensate approximately 523 healthcare workers who allegedly suffered unlawful discrimination when the hospital denied them religious exemptions from a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. The hospital initially allowed employees to request exemption from the vaccination policy and about 700 employees did so, with more than 500 of the requests based on religious views. The workers indicated that their religious objection centered on all three COVID vaccines being developed from cell lines derived from aborted fetuses. The hospital initially denied all religious exemption requests, and about 400 employees, including those who filed this suit, appealed from that denial. After initially denying all religious exemptions, the hospital then approved all religious exemptions, but determined that providing an accommodation to any employee with an in-person role would impose undue hardship on the hospital. The hospital also initially granted accommodations to some employees seeking medical exemptions, so long as they complied with protocols including masking and weekly COVID testing. But then, the hospital ultimately directed that all individuals seeking exemptions, whether religious or medical, would be placed on unpaid leave.