St. Vincent’s Health Center, owner of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Erie, faces an EEOC religious discrimination lawsuit after it fired six employees who refused on religious grounds to receive flu vaccinations.
The hospital’s policy allowed employees to refuse flu vaccines on medical grounds as long as the employee wore a mask while treating patients. The employer, however, did not offer the same accommodation to those who refused because vaccines violated their religious beliefs.
The suit alleges the employees were terminated during the 2013-2014 flu season, when the hospital granted 14 medical exemptions.
They complained to the EEOC, which attempted to resolve the disputes through its conciliation process. When those efforts failed, it filed suit alleging St. Vincent’s violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act because it could have accommodated the employees’ religious beliefs by allowing them to wear masks as well.
Note: Employers that fail to accommodate religious beliefs must be prepared with documentation showing that the accommodation would have been an undue hardship to the employer.