NorthShore University HealthSystem has been ordered to pay out a first-of-its-kind settlement to healthcare workers who challenged the hospital system's Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
The healthcare workers will share an overall $10.3 million received in the settlement agreement.
Thirteen NorthShore healthcare employees sued the Illinois hospital system in October 2021 alleging the hospital illegally refused to grant religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate.
Liberty Counsel, which represented the workers, said the July 29 settlement agreement affects more than 500 current and former healthcare workers who were denied religious exemptions from the vaccine requirement.
It's estimated that millions of Americans object to Covid-19 vaccines on religious grounds, including the fact that cell lines from aborted human fetuses have been utilized in production.
"We are very pleased with the historic, $10 million settlement achieved in our class action lawsuit against NorthShore University HealthSystem," Liberty Counsel Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation Counsel Horatio G. Mihet said in a statement:
"The drastic policy change and substantial monetary relief required by the settlement will bring a strong measure of justice to NorthShore's employees who were callously forced to choose between their conscience and their jobs. This settlement should also 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."
The settlement stipulates that North Shore also change its unlawful "no religious accommodations" policy to make it consistent with the law, and to provide religious accommodations in every position across its numerous facilities.
Employees who were fired because of their religious refusal to take the Covid-19 vaccine will be eligible to be rehired, if they apply within 90 days of final settlement approval by the court. Plus, rehired employees will return to their previous level of seniority.
Anyone who lost a job due to their inability to comply with the mandate is eligible to receive $25,000, and any of the 13 lead plaintiffs involved in the suit are eligible for an additional $20,000, meaning they would receive $45,000 in total, according to Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel.
Employees who ultimately received the vaccine despite raising religious objections would be eligible for around $3,000 in compensation.
The NorthShore settlement agreement also sets aside $2 million for legal fees.
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