Hospital sued by employees fired for refusing vaccine
NORTHFIELD, Minn. (AP) — Some medical professionals are suing a city-owned hospital in southeastern Minnesota after they were terminated for refusing to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
The 20 plaintiffs, which include a doctor, registered nurses and other medical staff, filed their lawsuit in U.S. District Court Monday alleging they were fired without just cause. They claim Northfield Hospital and Clinics in Northfield failed to accommodate their religious beliefs and serious health conditions as reasons for rejecting the vaccine.
“We stand by our vaccination policy. COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at preventing illness and spread of virus,” said Betsy Spethmann, a hospital spokeswoman. “Full vaccination of our staff is the best way to protect our patients, staff, and community.”
Nearly 4,000 lawsuits challenging vaccination mandates have been filed nationwide, according to Fisher & Phillips, an Atlanta-based law firm that tracks COVID-19 lawsuits, the Star Tribune reported.
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said that employers can require vaccinations, subject to certain medical or religious exemptions. The agency recommends that employers discuss the issue with employees seeking exemptions.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Andrew Parker, says that’s where Northfield failed. Several of the fired Northfield health care workers said they were given no hearing and no opportunity to explain their views.
“I was a very dedicated employee for almost 14 years, and I feel like I was just tossed away,” said registered nurse Ellen Tichich. “Nobody ever sat down and talked to me.”
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