‘Win for medical freedom!’ Healthcare workers win ‘historic’ settlement over Covid shot mandates

Call them “pure bloods,” “anti-vaxxers,” “vaccine hesitant” or simply common sense folks rightfully concerned about experimental technologies being injected into their bodies, but no matter how you refer to those conscientious objectors to unwarranted and unlawful mandates, the honorific victor can now be applied after a first of its kind legal settlement of over $10 million.

The NorthShore University HealthSystem based in Chicago, Illinois ascribed to many of the diktats handed down as “recommendations” from the experts and in the name of a health emergency had instituted a “Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.” As happened across the nation, employees challenged the mandate on religious grounds and were either terminated or coerced into taking the shots out of fear of the same.

On Friday, according to The Center Square, after more than 500 current and former health-care workers had begun a legal challenge by way of a demand letter to change the policy in October, a class action lawsuit led to a settlement for $10,337,500 filed in the federal Northern District Court of Illinois.

The nonprofit law firm Liberty Counsel represented the healthcare workers in their dispute and released a statement detailing the Civil Rights Act violations that NorthShore was said to have committed that led to the suit.

“This classwide settlement providing compensation and the opportunity to return to work is the first of its kind in the nation involving COVID shot mandates. 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,” Liberty Counsel founder and chair Mat Staver said.

“Let this case be a warning to employers that violated Title VII,” he added. “It is especially significant and gratifying that this first classwide COVID settlement protects health care workers. Health care workers are heroes who daily give their lives to protect and treat their patients. They are needed now more than ever.”

The statement made clear that “As part of the settlement agreement, NorthShore will 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. No position in any NorthShore facility will be considered off limits to unvaccinated employees with approved religious exemptions.”

“If NorthShore had agreed then,” Liberty Counsel said of their initial demand letter, “to follow the law and grant religious exemptions, the matter would have been quickly resolved and it would have cost it nothing.”

While this is the first of its kind for the COVID vaccine mandate and still pending court approval, Staver and his Liberty Counsel had scored a victory against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D-Calif.) draconian lockdown measures when a federal judge ruled the governor had to pay $1.35 million in his official capacity to Pasadena’s Harvest Rock Church after he had attempted to shut them down, including through threat of criminal charges.

“Governor Gavin Newsom’s COVID restrictions intentionally discriminated against churches while providing preferential treatment to many secular businesses and gatherings,” Staver said at the time. “The Supreme Court intervened multiple times to provide relief. California may never again place discriminatory restrictions on churches and places of worship.”

Employees at NorthShore who had lost there will be eligible for rehire at their previous seniority level should they choose to apply within 90 days of the finalized settlement. They are also expected to receive approximately $25,000 a piece if they had been terminated or resigned over the mandate. Those employees who submitted to the mandate in spite of their religious objections and continued work are set to receive roughly $3,000 in compensation each.

It remains to be seen what precedent this case may hold for other legal challenges throughout the country where hundreds of thousands subjected to similar mandates suffered the same fate as members of the NorthShore University Health System, including tens of thousands of military service members still facing potential discharge.

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Kevin Haggerty

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