Written by Don Byrd

For two years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims, St. Thomas Hospital in Murfreesboro, TN accommodated an employee’s religious objection to taking the flu shot by allowing him to wear a protective mask. But in 2015, they declined his request and he was fired after refusing to have an employee-required flu vaccination. Now the EEOC has filed suit against the hospital owner (Saint Thomas Health) claiming religious discrimination in employment.

Here is more from the EEOC press release:

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employers from denying reasonable accommodation of an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief prohibiting STH from denying religious accommodations in the future, as well as backpay, compensatory and punitive damages.

“For several years, STH accommodated the employee’s religious belief. Then, STH refused to accommodate his religious belief. An employer should not force an employee to choose between employment and his religious belief unless doing so would cause an undue hardship to the employer,” said Delner Franklin-Thomas, director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office.

Earlier this year, the EEOC announced a settlement in another case involving a religious objection to a hospital’s flu vaccination requirement. For more information, see a 2012 “informal discussion letter” written by EEOC Legal Counsel on the topic of employee religious objections to workplace immunization mandates.