Over 500 Christian healthcare workers, including nurses and doctors, recently won their class action lawsuit against NorthShore University HealthSystem.
With it, healthcare workers stand to get over $10.3 million in damages in a historic first-of-its-kind court case settlement over a violation of religious rights against mandatory vaccination.
'A Historic First'
According to a Life News article, the class action settlement is the first in the United States.
The lawsuit reportedly originated when NorthShore allegedly discriminated against the plaintiffs by denying their requests to be exempted from mandatory COVID vaccination on religious grounds.
Liberty Counsel, the plaintiffs' legal representative, said in the article that the historic settlement should 'serve as a wakeup call' for employers who fail to accommodate religious exemptions on the COVID shot mandate.
The legal organization explained that "there is no pause button" on Title VII's federal employment law.
They said vaccine mandates do not rob employees of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to "reasonable" accommodation" on religious grounds, like when NorthShore disapproved of the plaintiffs' requests.
Liberty Counsel also implored employment law practitioners to "stop sitting on the sidelines" and "help people obtain justice" as they did for the more than 500 doctors and nurses.
Details of the Settlement
The Life News article revealed that NorthShore is set to pay the healthcare workers more than $10 million.
Aside from the monetary settlement, NorthShore was ordered to modify its policy not to accommodate religious exemptions to comply with appropriate laws.
The article added that they would also begin offering religious accommodations regardless of employee positions in all their facilities.
Moreover, NorthShore would welcome all unvaccinated employees who have successfully applied for religious exemptions in its facilities.
The article added that NorthShore employees who experienced termination due to their refusal to get the vaccine shot on religious grounds are eligible to be rehired.
However, such employees should apply within 90 days of the court-approved final settlement. The article explained that they would likewise be reinstated with their seniority level at the time of termination.
How the Settlement Would Play Out
The Life News report said Illinois' Northern District Court received the settlement and should approve it.
Affected employees would then get a notice of settlement, which they could comment on, opt out of, or object to. They may also send the court a claim form for payment.
The article bared that everything should be done within the court-appointed deadlines.
Should the court approve the settlement filed before it, NorthShore employees who resigned or were terminated for religious refusal of the COVID shot would get close to $25,000 each.
Meanwhile, employees who got the vaccine despite their religious objections would receive almost $3,000 apiece.
The article added that the 13 lead plaintiffs stand to get almost $20,000 each, given their huge role in bringing the class action case to court.
Meanwhile, Liberty Counsel would receive 20% of the total settlement amount, which is over $2 million.
According to a report by CBS News Chicago, NorthShore issued a statement about the settlement.
"We continue to support system-wide, evidence-based vaccination requirements for everyone who works at NorthShore - Edward-Elmhurst Health... 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," the statement read.