Religious employees win $100,000 in settlement over influenza vaccine mandate

Daily Caller News Foundation

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced Wednesday that a New Jersey medical group had settled for $100,000 for refusing to allow religious exemptions to the company’s influenza vaccine policy, according to a press release.

Six employees were denied requests to obtain a religious exemption to Inspira Medical Centers’ (IMC) policy requiring the influenza vaccine for all staff in compliance with a “New Jersey statute that requires health care employees to get the influenza vaccine,” according to the Wednesday press release. The EEOC found that the company had failed to meet the requirements for religious accommodation under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and as a result, the company agreed to settle with five of the employees for a total of $100,000.

“Title VII allows employees with sincerely held religious beliefs to seek reasonable accom­modations, and the EEOC is committed to enforcing the Title VII requirement that employers reasonably accommodate their workers with sincerely-held religious beliefs absent undue hardship,” EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie Williamson said in the press release.

Prior to 2020, IMC’s policy provided employees the ability to apply for both medical and religious objections to the vaccination requirement, according to the press release. After the start of the COVID-19 pandemic later that year, the IMC amended the policy to exclude religious exemptions, denying employees’ requests for religious accommodation while still allowing medical accommodation requests.

The company argued that it was simply altering its standards to meet a New Jersey statute that only required employers to provide medical accommodations, but EEOC found that violated the Civil Rights Act by knowingly discriminating against religious employees, according to the press release. In addition to the $100,000 payment, ICM agreed to change its policy to “explicitly provide employees an exemption to the policy because of an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs” and grant religious accommodations except when it would pose an “undue burden on Inspira.”

The EEOC and IMC did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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