Fired Nurse Calls Flu Shot Sacrilegious
COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) - A hospital fired a nurse for refusing to get a flu shot, knowing that getting the shot would violate her Christian beliefs, the nurse claims in Federal Court.
Karen Good sued the Coshocton County Memorial Hospital Association, which operates Coshocton County Memorial Hospital.
Good, a nurse supervisor who describes herself as "a practicing Christian with sincerely held religious beliefs," says the hospital implemented a mandatory flu shot policy for all employees in October 2012.
She says religious beliefs and medical conditions were the only exemptions allowed, and that "in accordance with the policy, plaintiff's clergyman provided defendant with a letter setting forth the nature of plaintiff's religious belief and the basis upon which she sought exemption."
Coshocton Memorial approved her exemption in 2012, and Good wore a face mask during flu season.
She claims things changed in the fall of 2013, when the hospital altered its policy and required "a religious exemption form signed by the employee's clergyman."
She claims her clergyman sent a similar letter to the one that was approved in 2012, but the hospital denied her exemption and told her in a meeting with supervisors that she "could either receive the vaccine or be terminated.
"In the same meeting, plaintiff offered to wear a mask while she worked. This accommodation was also denied," Good says.
The hospital's HR department told her she could resign or be suspended and fired.
Good says she refused to resign and was fired less than two weeks after the meeting with her supervisors.
She seeks compensatory and punitive damages for religious discrimination and retaliation.
The lawsuit does not specify the branch of Christianity to which Good adheres, nor why it prohibits flu shots. Her attorney, Greg Mansell, did not respond to a request for comment over the weekend.