Hospital pays job applicant who refused mandated flu shot

A hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich., has agreed to pay a settlement to a job applicant who had been offered a position, but then was arbitrarily rejected because he declined to take a flu shot hospital officials demanded.

News of the settlement comes from Liberty Counsel.

The fight involved Trinity Health Grand Rapids, which previously was known as Mercy Health St. Mary’s. The resolution includes a consent decree that allows paying of some $50,000 to the worker who was rejected.

The case originally was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and charged the hospital improperly denied a job applicant’s request for a religious exemption to the flu shot.

The requirement for such shots later was dropped by the hospital, which agreed to train leaders on religious rights in addition to paying the settlement.

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“According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, even though the hospital’s former flu shot policy allowed for a religious exemption, the hospital determined the applicant’s articulated religious beliefs were ‘insufficient’ to grant the exemption and denied it without an explanation. Trinity Health, which had made a conditional job offer to the applicant, then rescinded that job offer and did not give the applicant an opportunity to address the concerns with his request.”

The EEOC accused the corporation of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The report explained federal law insists that employers make reasonable accommodations for religious employees – unless those accommodations create an “undue hardship” on the company.

The standards provide that exemption requests are presumed to be based on sincere belief unless there is evidence otherwise.

“If an employer has an objective basis for questioning either the religious nature or the sincerity of a particular belief, the employer would be justified in making a limited factual inquiry and seeking additional supporting information,” the federal agency said.

Its investigation, however, revealed Trinity failed to do that.

The EECO reported it got nearly 14,000 complaints of religious discrimination in 2022, up from the 2,111 in 2021, which was just as Joe Biden’s administration was taking over.

Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver said, “Federal law requires employers to accommodate sincerely held religious beliefs unless the employer can show that doing so will result in an undue hardship. Employees should never have to choose between their faith and their job.”

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