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Fired workers sue Mayo Clinic over COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Christopher Snowbeck, Star Tribune on

Published in Business News

More than two dozen former employees have brought lawsuits against Mayo Clinic and related entities alleging they were wrongly terminated after the clinic did not grant them religious exemptions to a policy mandating COVID-19 vaccination.

Nine lawsuits against Mayo, listing a total of 27 plaintiffs, have been filed in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota during May and June.

Former workers say the clinic failed to undertake an individual and interactive process for evaluating their requests for religious exemptions.

The clinic "put itself in the position of deciding the sincerity of the religious belief of the plaintiffs and, whether a belief was 'religious' or not," says the first of the lawsuits, which was filed by Sherry Ihde, a supervisor in the bacteriology lab who worked at Mayo for 23 years.

"Defendant Mayo did not provide information about its process for determining whether the employees sincerely held religious beliefs would be accommodated," her lawsuit states.

Mayo says it disputes many of the allegations in the lawsuits and will defend its vaccine program implementation.

 

"Mayo Clinic recognizes that some employees have deeply held religious beliefs that led them to seek exemption from COVID-19 vaccination," the clinic says. "In compliance with established laws, Mayo offered its employees the option to request a religious accommodation. The majority of religious exemption requests were granted."

In January, the clinic said that about 700 workers were losing their jobs for failing to comply with its policy, which called on employees to either receive their first shots or obtain an exemption for medical or religious reasons.

The clinic introduced its policy in 2021, saying it was necessary to provide the safest possible environment at Mayo, which treats patients who come from around the world for complex care.

Some plaintiffs, however, argued that they either worked remotely, didn't work directly with patients or had shown they could provide care safely without being vaccinated.

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