Last week, a federal judge approved a $10 million settlement for healthcare workers in Illinois who were fired for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine or denied a religious exemption from the shot.
According to Liberty Counsel, a religious liberty organization, Judge John F. Kness approved a class action settlement for 500 healthcare workers at NorthShore University HealthSystem who were forced to take the COVID-19 vaccine or terminated for refusing to get vaccinated. CBN News reports that this is the first class action settlement for healthcare professionals who refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
"Let this case be a warning to employers that violated Title VII," Mat Staver, founder, and chairman of Liberty Counsel, told The Washington Examiner. "It is especially significant and gratifying that this first class-wide COVID settlement protects healthcare workers."
Liberty Counsel filed the lawsuit on behalf of the healthcare employees. The $10.3 million settlement was reached in August in the federal Northern District Court of Illinois, but final approval was still needed.
Under the approved settlement, NorthShore will pay a total of $10,337,500 to compensate the fired healthcare employees and those who refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine due to their religious beliefs or the vaccine's association with fetal cells.
"We are very pleased with the historic $10 million settlement achieved in our class action lawsuit against NorthShore University HealthSystem. 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," Liberty Counsel Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation Counsel Horatio G. Mihet said in a statement.
"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," he continued.
Fired employees who refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for rehire as long as they apply within 90 days of final approval. They will also regain their seniority level upon rehire.
Additionally, Northshore will now allow for religious accommodations in every position at multiple facilities.
A total of 473 healthcare employees will receive compensation. Fired employees will be granted $25,000, and those who took the vaccine against their religious objections will be awarded $3,000.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Andriy Onufriyenko
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.