natlawreview.com, 27 December 2016
Six hospital employees who refused influenza vaccines will be offered re-employment and will receive payments totaling $300,000 to resolve the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) religious accommodation lawsuit against their former employer.
The EEOC and Saint Vincent Health Center in Pennsylvania entered into a consent decree, filed Dec. 23, that includes the hospital’s agreement to terms requiring careful consideration of requests for accommodations based on sincerely held religious beliefs, practices and observances with respect to mandatory influenza vaccination programs. As part of entering into the consent decree, the hospital made no admission of liability.
The hospital has agreed that it will “not require proof that an employee’s or applicant’s religious objection to an influenza vaccine be an official tenet or endorsed teaching of any particular religion or denomination, nor shall Saint Vincent conclude that a religious belief, practice or observance is not sincerely held simply because it deems the religious belief, practice, or observance unreasonable, inaccurate, unfounded, illogical, or inconsistent in Saint Vincent’s view.” However, the “undue hardship” analysis will continue to apply to the hospital’s individualized analysis of religious exemption requests.