Court Finds Facility that Terminated Employment for Vaccine Refusal Did Not Discriminate
January 23, 2017 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care
A federal court in Massachusetts found that a healthcare facility did not unlawfully discriminate against an administrative associate in terminating her employment because she refused vaccination for religious reasons, states a report in the November 2016 issue of Zarin's Medical Liability Alert(subscription required). The hospital had a policy requiring all staff who worked in or accessed patient care areas to be vaccinated against influenza. The policy exempted staff from the requirement only if the vaccination posed a serious health risk to the individual. It did not exempt staff who object on religious grounds; however, the hospital did accommodate individual requests from staff who objected for religious reasons to receive pork-free vaccines. The plaintiff was an administrative associate in the emergency department, and she regularly had to touch or sit in close proximity to patients. She learned that some vaccines contain pork by-products and refused the vaccine for religious reasons.