Health care workers denied religious exemption to COVID-19 vaccine mandate settle lawsuit for $10.3M

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A Christian litigation nonprofit announced Friday that it settled the “first classwide lawsuit for health care workers over a COVID shot mandate” in the United States. The settlement awards those workers more than $10.3 million.

Liberty Counsel brought the lawsuit against NorthShore University HealthSystem, located in the suburbs of Chicago, on behalf of more than 500 current and former workers who objected to its COVID-19 vaccine mandate on religious grounds.

These employees refused the vaccination due to its association with aborted fetal cells, according to Liberty Counsel.

The settlement was filed in the federal Northern District Court of Illinois, where it waits to be approved. In the settlement, NorthShore agrees to change its policy and consider rehiring workers who left because their religious exemption requests were denied.

NorthShore estimates that 523 workers requested and were denied religious exemption or accommodation to its policy requiring COVID-19 vaccination between July 1, 2021, and Jan. 1, 2022, according to the settlement. Of those, NorthShore estimates that 204 complied with the requirement while 269 were discharged or resigned based on their religious objection to a COVID-19 vaccine.

The settlement notes that Northshore approved the religious exemption and accommodation request from one person.

The Catholic Church’s position

Pope Francis and the Vatican have strongly encouraged Catholics to consider the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith also issued a note on the morality of vaccines addressing concerns about their connection to abortion. It found that “when ethically irreproachable Covid-19 vaccines are not available … it is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”

The note also cautioned against mandates while emphasizing that Catholics must consider the common good in their decision.

“At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary,” the note states.

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