vaccination 2725065 640 1

Mich. Judge Approves Settlement in Vaccine Mandate Case

30 Apr, 2023 F.J. Thomas

vaccination 2725065 640 1

Sarasota, FL ( – According to a recent report from Becker’s Hospital Review, a federal judge has issued a first round settlement approval in a lawsuit against Ascension Health for their alleged application of their COVID-19 vaccination policy.

Ascension Health is the nation’s leading non-profit and Catholic health system, based out of St. Louis, Missouri. The organization operates 2,600 facilities across 19 states as well as the District Of Columbia. With a total of 139 hospitals and 39 senior living facilities, the group has over 36,000 affiliated providers and 139,000 in staff.

In July 2021, Ascension implemented a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all associates. Workers were given a deadline of November 12th of that same year to comply, with Ascension providing a process for requesting a medical or religious exemption. The company stated that the requirements were in line with their annual influenza vaccine requirement.

According to a report from Law360, a group of 60 healthcare professionals, along with Ascension Michigan that operates 15 hospitals in the region, filed a lawsuit against Ascension health in July of last year. The group included physicians and other licensed clinical workers, as well as non-clinical workers.

The group alleged that the healthcare system had an illegal blanket policy against the allowance of religious based COVID-19 exemptions and refused to give workers exemptions that cited religious beliefs for their reason to decline vaccination for COVID-19. The group’s position was that as a result of the alleged policy, over 500 employees were put on involuntary unpaid leave. The lawsuit was based on the Elliott-Larsen civil rights act, which prohibits discriminatory practices based on religion. The lawsuit requested compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney’s fees.

Workers that applied for the religious exemption and were denied and subsequently suspended or forced to leave for refusing to get the vaccine are eligible to receive proceeds from the settlement, with the time period extending prior to February 28th, 2022. The settlement will be calculated based on upon weekly salaries, up to five weeks. Under the agreement, the group’s counsel would receive up to a third of the settlement. The final approval under a fairness hearing is set for October.

In response to the settlement, Ascension released a statement to Becker’s: "Like many health systems across the country, and consistent with federal guidance, Ascension required our associates to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This decision was made in response to strong federal requirements, and after thoughtful consideration of the impact to our associates, patients and the communities we serve.

Ultimately, we believe the decision was reflective of our commitment to leading with quality and safety on behalf of our patients and our workforce. We're pleased that 95 percent of our workforce completed the primary vaccine series. Because of our dedicated associates, we were able to remain open to serve our communities during the entire COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to focus on providing personalized, compassionate care to the persons and communities that we are privileged to serve.

In August of last year, a $10.3 million settlement was reached in Illinois when more than 500 workers sued NorthShore University Health System in Evanston, Illinois for their COVID-19 vaccination mandate. In that case, NorthShore admitted that 523 employees had requested and been denied religious exemptions under their COVID-19 vaccination policy.

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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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