Minnesota health care workers sue hospital over denied COVID vax exemptions

All medical exemption requests were denied. And all but one religious exemption request was denied, according to the lawsuit.

Northfield Hospital and Clinics, which operates Northfield Hospital (pictured above) was sued Monday for denying exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine. (Northfield Hospital and Clinics/Facebook)

Health care workers at Northfield Hospital and Clinics, roughly 40 miles south of the Twin Cities, are suing their employer over a denial of religious and medical exemptions to the COVID vaccine.

A group of current and former employees filed a complaint Tuesday in U.S. District Court, listing the city of Northfield (which owns the hospital) and Northfield Hospital as defendants, among others. Many of the plaintiffs are nurses and one is a physician. Some have or had worked at Northfield Hospital for two decades and counting.

According to the complaint, several hospital employees raised religious objections to their employer’s mandate, while others cited health issues as their reason for abstaining.

All medical exemption requests, however, were denied. And all but one religious exemption request was denied — with the plaintiffs alleging that the lone exception was based on the hospital’s “arbitrary needs,” not the nature of the request itself.

“The Hospital … offered one religious exemption to an employee for a particular job which it was finding difficult to fill. When that employee rejected the proffered exemption and quit, the Hospital, on information and belief, offered the same exemption to another employee, but only on the condition that the employee accept the job in question,” reads the complaint.

Furthermore, the hospital allegedly said that employees who resigned because of the mandate were entitled to compensation for their accumulated paid time off. But those employees still have not received that money.

“As of the date of this Complaint, several Plaintiffs have either lost their jobs as a result of the above-described actions or have been forced to quit their employment because of the Hospital’s treatment and their unpaid employment status,” the complaint introduction concludes.

Andrew Parker, a lawyer who filed the complaint on behalf of the health care workers, asserted that this lawsuit is different from other suits against vaccine mandates. This one, he said in a press release, is “about an employer who arbitrarily applied a blanket denial process when considering exemption requests and failed to make any accommodation for legitimate employee concerns regarding the vaccines in their individual cases.”

“This country was founded on fundamental precepts of religious freedom. Our individual rights must be protected from government overreach in violation of the law. Northfield Hospital and Clinics has trampled on those individual rights. Peoples choices may differ, but their rights are the same and bedrock principles do not change. We should all be concerned when they are ignored,” he added.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.