Healthcare workers initial settlement reached in lawsuit over COVID-19 vaccine mandate – L’Observateur

(Center Square) — The first settlement has been reached in the United States in a class action lawsuit brought by health care workers over the authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine to a university system.

Chicago-based NorthShore University HealthSystem has agreed to pay more than 500 current and former health care workers a total of $10,337,500 as part of the terms of the settlement. It is also changing its policy to accommodate requests for religious exemption and to rehire former employees who have been fired or forced to resign and whose exemption requests have been denied.

NorthShore employees, represented by the nonprofit Religious Freedom, filed a lawsuit, claiming they were discriminated against because they were denied religious exemptions from the company’s vaccine mandate. settlement was Foot Friday in Federal District Court in Illinois.

Liberty Concealer said this is the “first-of-its-kind class action settlement against a private employer that unlawfully denied hundreds of religious exemption requests for COVID-19 shots.” Its founder and president, Matt Staver, said it “should be a wake-up call for every employer who has not accommodated or excused employees who have opposed COVID footage for religious reasons. Let this case serve as a warning to employers who have violated Article VII.”

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

The settlement is close to ending a conflict that began after NorthShore denied staff religious residency requests from its “mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.” Last October, Liberty Counsel sent a letter of request on behalf of affected employees but NorthShore has not changed its policy. As a result, Liberty’s attorney filed a class action lawsuit.

“Had North Shore agreed to follow the law and grant religious waivers, the issue could have been resolved quickly and cost them nothing,” Liberty Concealer said.

While the settlement has been agreed by both parties, it has yet to be approved by the court. NorthShore employees who have been denied religious waivers will receive a Notice of Settlement and will be given an opportunity to comment, object, request withdrawal, or file a claim form for payment within deadlines not yet set by the court.

The settlement required NorthShore to change its “religious incompatibilities” policy, which it agreed to do, and provide religious accommodations at every position across the company.

Employees who were terminated because their religious exemption requests were denied are now eligible for re-employment, according to the terms of the settlement. They can apply for positions at their previous seniority level within 90 days of the court’s approval of the final settlement.

NorthShore’s director of public relations, Collette Urban, told The Center Square, “We continue to support the system-wide, evidence-based vaccination requirements for everyone who works at NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health and we thank our team members for helping keep our communities safe.”

“The settlement reflects the implementation of a new system-wide vaccine policy that will include accommodations for team members with approved waivers, including reassigned former employees.”

The amount individuals will receive in payments will depend on the number of valid and timely claim forms submitted. If all, or nearly all, affected employees submit valid and timely claims, it is estimated that those who were fired or forced to resign after their religious exemption requests were denied would receive approximately $25,000 each. Those who were forcibly vaccinated to keep their jobs and against their religious beliefs would receive about $3,000 each.

The thirteen employees who were the principal plaintiffs will receive an additional payment of approximately $20,000 each. Liberty Counsel will receive 20% of the $2,061,500 settlement amount to cover attorneys’ fees and costs.

“The radical change in policy and the significant monetary relief that the settlement requires will bring a great deal of justice to NorthShore employees who have been cruelly forced to choose between their conscience and their jobs. This settlement should be It also serves as a strong warning to employers across the country that they cannot refuse to accommodate those who have honest religious objections to forced vaccination mandates.”

Staver added, “It was especially important and enjoyable that this first class-level COVID settlement protects healthcare workers. Healthcare workers are heroes who give their lives every day to protect and treat their patients. It is needed now more than ever.” .