December 23, 2021

NorthShore Employees Seeking Damages over Vaccine Mandates

Employees of NorthShore University HealthSystem who have lost work due to their refusal to take vaccines developed and/or manufactured with the use of cell lines harvested from abortion babies will seek damages through the federal District Court of Illinois.

Liberty Counsel, the legal firm representing NorthShore employees who have been denied religious exemptions from the organization's COVID vaccine mandate, announced in a press release that they will "ask the federal District Court of Illinois to certify the entire class of health care workers and will seek damages on behalf of those employees who have been unlawfully discriminated against and denied religious exemptions."

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals previously refused to grant an injunction to provide employees with emergency relief from the mandate, but it did grant a motion to expedite the appeal process. Judge John Kness wrote in his decision that he would not grant the injunction because employees would not suffer "irreparable harm" under the mandate. He wrote that the harm to employees by the mandate could be repaired through monetary damages including back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorneys fees, and others.

NorthShore had previously granted exemptions to some of the employees being represented by Liberty Counsel, but it later denied them without a clear explanation. NorthShore also changed its exemption form to declare that all religious exemptions based on “aborted fetal cell lines, stem cells, tissue or derivative materials will result in denials.”

Liberty Counsel believes that the employees' religious beliefs are protected under the Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which prohibits discrimination based on health care choices. The law states, “It shall be unlawful for any person, public or private institution, or public official to discriminate against any person in any manner, including but not limited to, licensing, hiring, promotion, or any other privileges, because of such person's conscientious refusal to receive, obtain, accept or participate in any way in any particular form of health care services contrary to his or her conscience.”