Illinois healthcare workers who were fired for not getting a COVID shot or were denied religious exemptions have been granted a $10 million settlement by a federal judge.
Last week, Judge John F. Kness granted approval for a class action settlement for over 500 present and former healthcare employees at NorthShore University HealthSystem. These employees either received a COVID-19 vaccine as a requirement to keep their job, or were terminated for refusing to get vaccinated.
According to the Liberty Counsel, the settlement is the first lawsuit of its kind to cover healthcare professionals across the country in relation to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement.
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said to The Washington Examiner that this case should serve as a warning to employers who violated Title VII. He also mentioned that the settlement for the COVID-related case is significant and satisfying because it offers protection to healthcare workers on a classwide level.
A non-profit legal group filed a lawsuit on behalf of healthcare employees who were punished for refusing to take an injection associated with aborted fetal cells. In August, a settlement of $10.3 million was reached in the federal Northern District Court of Illinois, but it still needed final approval. As a result, NorthShore will now pay a total of $10,337,500 to compensate the employees affected by religious discrimination.
According to Horatio G. Mihet, the Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation Counsel at Liberty Counsel, we are happy with the $10 million settlement obtained in our class action lawsuit against NorthShore University HealthSystem. This settlement requires NorthShore to make significant policy changes and provide significant monetary relief to its staff who were unfairly forced to choose between their principles and their employment. This settlement will offer a significant amount of justice to the affected NorthShore employees.
He added that the settlement should warn employers nationwide that they cannot deny accommodation to individuals with genuine religious beliefs against mandatory vaccination.
Former employees who were fired due to their religious objection to the COVID vaccine can reapply for their positions within 90 days of the final settlement approval and will be considered for rehire. Their seniority level will remain the same as before.
NorthShore has changed its policy to allow religious accommodations at multiple facilities for all positions.
There are 473 employees who will be compensated. Those who lost their job and worked in healthcare are entitled to $25,000. Employees who followed the mandate, even if they had religious objections, may receive $3,000.