A lawsuit against NorthShore University HealthSystem has resulted in a proposed $10.3 million settlement after the hospital denied religious exemptions and fired hundreds of workers over its COVID-19 vaccine requirement.
14 unnamed employees filed a lawsuit against the hospital system on October 25 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
NorthShore University HealthSystem operates hospitals in Evanston, Highland Park, Glenview, Arlington Heights, Skokie and Chicago.
The proposed settlement filed on Friday comes following eight months of “vigorous litigation, mediation overseen by a private, experienced mediator, and eight weeks of arm’s length negotiations,” according to court documents.
NorthShore and the plaintiffs agreed to a $10,337,500 settlement. The class action size is approximately 523 current or former NorthShore workers.
269 of them requested a religious exemption and were fired or resigned after having the exemption denied.
204 of the workers requested a religious exemption and after denial became compliant with the policy.
Workers who were fired could receive approximately $25,000 each, while those who received the vaccination after having their exemption denied could receive approximately $3,000 each.
The lawsuit filed in October was seeking to remedy NorthShore’s “pattern of unlawful discrimination” against employees who requested religious exemptions and accommodations from the hospital system’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
According to the lawsuit, the termination of the 14 initial employees would cause “incalculable and irreparable harm to them and their families as described herein, including homelessness, lack of medical care, lack of food and shelter, disrupted education for their children, financial ruin, and harms to their physical, mental and emotional health.”
The suit said that the plaintiffs are against the COVID-19 vaccines because they were “either developed from, or tested with, aborted fetal cells lines” or for other religious reasons.
As part of the settlement agreement, NorthShore agreed to rehire fired workers.
Those with “sincere religious objections” to COVID-19 vaccines may receive a potential accommodation in the future.
“To that end, NorthShore has agreed to revise its System Vaccine Program to maintain a step-by-step review process for requests for religious exemptions and accommodations,” the agreement said.