In 2013 and 2014, Saint Vincent Hospital began firing any staff who refused a flu shot. The refusals were grounded in religious beliefs which prevented the staff from accepting the shots. Following the firings, a religious discrimination lawsuit was filed.
Today, the fruits of that labor are being paid out to those who suffered job losses.
The Erie hospital also will provide about $300,000 in back pay and compensatory damages to the employees as part of an agreement to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of the workers by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in September. A consent decree that ended the case and detailed the settlement terms was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Erie.The commission had claimed Saint Vincent violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it fired the six workers, who refused to be vaccinated after the hospital implemented a mandatory flu vaccination policy for all employees. The hospital granted medical exemptions to 14 other workers.
“The consent decree filed this week between the EEOC and Saint Vincent Hospital does not constitute any admission of violations by Saint Vincent or a finding on the merits of the case,” Dan Laurent, a spokesman for Allegheny Health Network, Saint Vincent’s parent organization, said in an email. “Although we have vigorously and respectfully disagreed with the EEOC’s position and characterization of how employee claims outlined in this lawsuit were handled by the hospital, we have reached a resolution of the matter in the interest of avoiding the expense, delay and burden of further litigation on all parties.”
This is a wonderful step in the right direction. Many American workers are bullied, intimidated and forced into vaccinations such as flu shots. Declining the shots risk their livelihood. With a new Trump administration just days away, many believe laws may ease up, which could have an easing up effect amongst the American working culture. But only time will tell. At least these hospital workers received some compensation. Additionally, they get rehired.