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First Workplace Vaccine Mandate Religious Exemption Lawsuit Results in $10.3 Million Settlement

Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: July 31, 2022
A $10.3 million settlement has been reached in the first workplace COVID vaccine mandate lawsuit with Illinois healthcare workers
NorthShore University HealthSystem agreed to pay $10.3 million in a class action lawsuit surrounding COVID vaccine mandates filed by employees who lost their jobs or were forced to take the injections starting in July of last year. The victory is the first of its kind. (Image: Sora Shimazaki via Pexels)

A victory has been won for opponents of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) workplace vaccine mandates as a class action lawsuit against an Illinois hospital network has resulted in a $10.3 million settlement.

The case was filed in October of 2021 on behalf of more than 500 former and current workers of the NorthShore University HealthSystem in Illinois after “No Jab? No Job” mandates were instilled in the workplace and religious exemptions were denied.

The speedy proposed settlement agreement was filed on July 29.

The document states that 523 staff members filed for a religious exemption to the network’s vaccine mandates between July 1, 2021 and the end of the year.

The class were denied, causing them to either take the experimental gene therapy injection or be terminated.

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Advocacy website The Defender states the settlement, the first of its kind, also requires NorthShore to change its “no religious accommodations” policy. 

Although the Federal District Court still must approve the settlement, if the paperwork is stamped, terminated employees will have 90 days to apply to be rehired, and will retain their previous seniority level.

The settlement states that the money will be divided in the following format:

  • $2.06 million to the attorney group Liberty Counsel who represents the Plaintiffs
  • $260,000 split among the 13 individuals who filed the lawsuit
  • Fees and expenses incurred by the Settlement Administrator

The remainder will be distributed at roughly $25,000 each to those who were terminated and $3,000 each to those who took the injection. 

The Defender noted that Liberty Counsel’s fees, amounting to roughly 25 percent, “Is far less than the typical 33% usually requested by attorneys in class action litigation.”

Horatio G. Mihet, Chief Litigation Counsel, told The Defender, “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,” Mihet added.

Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver said, “This settlement should be a wake-up call to every employer that did not accommodate or exempt employees who opposed the COVID shots for religious reasons.”

Concerns about the vaccine mandates for religious believers have widely been rooted in the fact that at least Pfizer’s variant of its mRNA injection was developed using a human embryonic kidney cell line taken from an aborted fetus.

The fact became widely public after a Pfizer whistleblower went to investigative journalist team Project Veritas in October with internal emails between company executives flatly admitting fetal cell lines were used while powowing as to how to handle the public relations aspect.

Philip Dormitzer, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Viral Vaccines, stated in one email, “HEK293T [Human Embryonic Kidney] cells, used for the IVE assay, are ultimately derived from an aborted fetus.”

But brushed off the implications because, “On the other had, the Vatican doctrinal committee has confirmed that they consider it acceptable for Pro-Life believers to be immunized.”
NorthShore was limited in comment following the defeat. In a comment to local media outlet Evanston

Now, a spokesperson said the company still “continue(s) to support system-wide, evidence-based vaccination requirements for everyone who works at [NorthShore] and thank our team members for helping keep our communities safe.”