Worker forced to get flu shot despite religious objections

A nursing home worker was forced to submit to a mandatory flu shot after being told her refusal would result in termination. A federal suit alleging religious discrimination has been filed against the county that owns nursing home.

Requesting a religious exemption

The woman explained to her employer that taking the vaccine went against her religious beliefs. In the lawsuit the woman told her employer that her body is a holy temple and putting foreign substances into it is forbidden by the Bible. The nursing home did allow employees to be exempt from the vaccination, but the woman didn't qualify. Unvaccinated employees wear protective face masks during the flu season.

The employer required a letter from a clergy member supporting the exemption with a clear explanation of why the vaccination countered the religion's belief systems. However, since the woman did not currently belong to an organized religion, she was not able to procure a letter. The nursing home administrator did not offer the woman an alternative method of verification when notified of the situation.

Prohibited discrimination

The federal suit alleges that the nursing home's clergy policy violated the federal anti discrimination law. Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits racial discrimination in places of public accommodation. Since the nursing home is owned by the county, therefore supported by state action, it is considered a place of public accommodation. The lawsuit claims the woman was discriminated against because of her religious beliefs and forced into compliance. After the lawsuit was filed the nursing home ended the clergy requirement for exemptions.

Since receiving the flu shot the woman claims she has suffered from emotional distress, anxiety and fears she will go to Hell. The lawsuit is requesting unspecified damages for her pain and suffering.