Health care workers who were forced to take COVID-19 shots or lose their job will soon be eligible to tap into a $10 million settlement.
About a dozen workers sued NorthShore University HealthSystem in Illinois in October 2021 for not accepting religious exemptions to the worker rule. The settlement memorandum requests U.S. Judge John Kness approve the July 29 agreement for $10,337,500 in compensation and legal fees.
Liberty Counsel, a public-interest pro bono law firm, said the settlement is the first of its kind involving private employers and vaccine mandates.
“The drastic policy change and substantial monetary relief required by the settlement will bring a strong measure of justice to NorthShore’s employees who were callously forced to choose between their conscience and their jobs,” Horatio Mihet, vice president of legal affairs at the group, said in a statement.
‘The Tide Is Turning’
The settlement is encouraging, says Douglas Seaton, an attorney at the Upper Midwest Law Center, which focuses on government overreach and protection of the rule of law.
“We have several cases in progress, at the mandatory agency charge stage and in the unemployment compensation system, where terminations or forced resignations have occurred under equivalent circumstances,” said Seaton. “One repeat offender is the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank.
“The legal system takes a long time to work through these cases, but this is a sign that the tide is turning and that employers cannot ignore the legal requirements to recognize religious and medical/disability exemptions from these mandates,” said Seaton.
Workers will be able to apply for money in the fund once it is approved by the court.
Workers who took the vaccine to keep their jobs would be eligible to receive $3,000. Those who lost their jobs could collect up to $25,000 each. Named plaintiffs will receive $260,000 each, and the law firm is expected to get 20 percent of the total settlement amount.