Lawyers for 500 health care workers who sued a hospital system over a COVID vaccine mandate said Friday that the workers had settled for over $10 million.
The workers, who alleged discrimination, had been denied religious exemptions from the NorthShore University Health Care System vaccine mandate.
“As a result of the settlement, NorthShore will pay $10,337,500 to compensate these health care employees who were victims of religious discrimination, and who were punished for their religious beliefs against taking an injection associated with aborted fetal cells,” Liberty Counsel, which represented the former and current workers, announced.
According to Liberty Counsel, the Illinois-based hospital system will also change its policy regarding religious exemptions and “provide religious accommodations in every position across its numerous facilities.”
The Christian and conservative legal group also said that if employees had been fired because of a refusal to get the COVID vaccine and had been denied a religious exemption, they could be rehired at their former position within 90 days of court approval of the settlement.
NorthShore confirmed in a statement to Evanston Now that the hospital would be changing its policy related to vaccination.
“The settlement reflects implementation of a new system-wide vaccine policy which will include accommodation for team members with approved exemptions, including former employees who are rehired,” it said.
The system also said that it still supports, “system-wide, evidence-based vaccination requirements for everyone who works at NorthShore – Edward/Elmhurst Health and thank our team members for helping keep our communities safe.”
The settlement, which Liberty Counsel said was the first of its kind, does not mean an admission of guilt from the hospital system.
“NorthShore continues to deny all claims as to wrongdoing, liability, damages, penalties, interest, fees, injunctive relief, and all other forms of relief, as well as the class allegations asserted in the action. This agreement cannot and will not be construed as an admission of liability on any claim or in any form against NorthShore,” it says.
Those workers who were fired or quit because of the mandate will get about $25,000 each, and those who asked for an exemption but ended up getting the shot will get $3,000.
Matt Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, told Evanston Now that the settlement should be “a big wakeup call for employers” about “blanket dismissals” for religious exemptions to the vaccine.
The Northern District Court of Illinois, a federal court, will still need to give final approval to the settlement.