In a landmark lawsuit regarding a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, about 500 health care workers will be receiving $10 million worth of payouts after challenging a hospital’s vaccine mandate.
Hundreds of workers at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Illinois filed a lawsuit in October 2021, claiming that the health care organization was not granting religious exemptions for the mandated vaccine, the Washington Examiner reported.
In July a settlement was reached, and 473 current and former health care employees will be compensated.
Liberty Counsel was the group to represent the original 13 plaintiffs.
Horatio Mihet, the vice president of legal affairs at Liberty Counsel, made a statement that this lawsuit and subsequent settlement should “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.”
There are gradations of payouts and compensation for the workers and plaintiffs depending on circumstances.
Worker who lost their job because of an inability to comply with the vaccine mandate will receive $25,000.
Any of the original 13 plaintiffs are also eligible for another $20,000, according to Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman Mat Staver.
Other health care workers who got the vaccine, despite religious objections, can be eligible for about $3,000 in compensation.
Anyone who was fired because of a refusal to be vaccinated based on religious belief will also be considered eligible for reemployment, the Examiner reported.
Along with these payouts, the settlement also allowed another $2 million for attorneys fees.
“This classwide 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,” Staver said in a statement released by Liberty Counsel.
“Let this case be a warning to employers that violated Title VII. It is especially significant and gratifying that this first classwide COVID settlement protects health care workers. Health care workers are heroes who daily give their lives to protect and treat their patients. They are needed now more than ever,” he added.
The judge who ruled in the case was John Kness, appointed by former President Donald Trump.
The Examiner reported that Kness sided with Liberty Counsel’s claims that the NorthShore University HealthSystem had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by denying religious exemptions to its vaccine mandate.
This is the first major case settled concerning the health care industry and COVID vaccine mandates.
But Staver spoke with the Washington Examiner to explain that Liberty Counsel is fighting other legal battles regarding vaccine mandates as well.
“We have been working with thousands of employees across the country,” Staver said.
That includes airline industries, other types of health care organizations and private employers.
“Many of them face the same jab-or-job mandate that is that issue in NorthShore,” Staver added.
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