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Hospital Pays $50K Settlement: 'Employees Shouldn't Have to Choose Between Their Faith and Their Job'

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A hospital in Michigan has agreed to pay $50,000 in damages to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to Liberty Counsel, a non-profit legal group, the EEOC filed a lawsuit last April on behalf of a job applicant for Trinity Health Grand Rapids, formerly known as Mercy Health St. Mary's, who alleged the hospital denied his request for a religious exemption to the flu shot.

The hospital's former policy allowed for religious exemptions for the shot, which was required annually, but then the hospital determined the applicant's "articulated religious beliefs were 'insufficient'" to grant the exemption and denied it without an explanation.

Trinity Health made a conditional job offer to the applicant but rescinded the offer after denying the exemption and did not allow the applicant to address the concerns with his request.  

The EEOC lawsuit alleges that the hospital violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and committed religious discrimination by "arbitrarily" denying the exemption with "reckless indifference" to the applicant's protected rights.

Title VII requires employers to make "reasonable" accommodations for religious employees unless the accommodation presents an "undue hardship" on the employer.

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In March 2022, the EEOC provided updated guidance on how an employer can determine an employee's religious sincerity stating that the sincerity of a religious belief is "largely a matter of individual credibility" and is "usually not in dispute."

"If an employer has an objective basis for questioning either the religious nature or the sincerity of a particular belief, the employer would be justified in making a limited factual inquiry and seeking additional supporting information," stated the EEOC. 

However, Trinity Health did not make a "factual inquiry", Liberty Counsel contends. 

"Federal law requires employers to accommodate sincerely held religious beliefs unless the employer can show that doing so will result in an undue hardship. Employees should never have to choose between their faith and their job," said Mat Staver, Liberty Counsel founder and chairman.

Trinity Health has agreed to a consent decree to settle the case and award the applicant $50,000. As part of that decree, the hospital has agreed to train human resources and senior leadership team members on Title VII's religious protections.

The applicant will receive $11,348 in back pay along with $38,651 in non-economic damages.

"Employees should not have to check their religious beliefs at the workplace door," said EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Dale Price. "The applicant's objection, which was based on his sincere religious beliefs, could have been easily accommodated. The EEOC will vigorously protect the religious rights of applicants and employees in the workplace."

Trinity Health did not immediately respond to CBN News' request for comment. 

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About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.