The following is an excerpt from The Defender.
A U.S. judge approved a multimillion-dollar settlement on Dec. 19 for workers who were fired by an Illinois healthcare system for refusing to get a Covid-19 vaccine.
About 500 workers who were terminated or, after seeing their exemption requests denied, got a Covid-19 vaccine, will receive compensation as part of the $10.3 million settlement, a preliminary version of which was first announced in July.
U.S. District Judge John Kness, a Trump appointee overseeing the lawsuit brought by the workers, issued verbal approval for the settlement during a hearing, lawyers for Liberty Counsel and NorthShore University Healthsystem said.
Kness plans to release a written judgment in the next week.
In a brief statement emailed to The Epoch Times after Kness’s approval, NorthShore wrote, “We are pleased with the Court’s approval of a supportive resolution to this matter and continue to prioritize the health and safety of our patients and team members.”
Like many healthcare systems, NorthShore imposed a vaccine mandate on employees in 2021.
NorthShore told workers that they could file a request for a religious exemption using a form that said the worker in question needed to provide “a description of my sincerely held religious principle or practice that guides my objection to receiving the required vaccination.”
NorthShore explicitly instructed applicants to not fill out lengthy answers.
NorthShore initially approved some of the exemption requests but then reversed the decisions and denied “all or virtually all of them,” according to filings from the plaintiffs. Officials said the employees failed to meet the standard for religious exemptions.
Harry Mihet, vice president of legal affairs for Liberty Counsel, said in a statement that the group was “pleased to finally get the court’s final approval of this class-wide settlement for these health care workers who were unlawfully discriminated against and denied religious exemptions from the Covid shot mandate.”
“This case should set a precedent for other employers who have violated the law by denying religious exemptions for their employees,” he said. (Continued...)
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