Blanket Denial of Exemption Requests Forces Healthcare Workers to Sue Northfield Hospital and Clinic Over Vaccine Mandate



MINNEAPOLIS, MN, Tuesday, November 9, 2021

In a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court by Andrew Parker of the Parker Daniels Kibort law firm against Northfield Hospital and Clinic, numerous healthcare professionals make claims their employer “failed to accommodate or even attempt to accommodate their legitimate religious beliefs and medical conditions.”

The healthcare workers were both denied accommodation for their genuinely held religious beliefs or existing health conditions and were fired from their jobs with Northfield Hospital and Clinic for not taking the COVID–19 vaccine.

Months ago, during the height of the pandemic, these very same Northfield Hospital and Clinic healthcare workers were front line responders saving many lives and caring for sick patients. They made immeasurable sacrifices and put aside their own health and safety without question or complaint. Each of them worked tirelessly under uncertain conditions.

As healthcare professionals, the plaintiffs are a group of knowledgeable healthcare consumers who are careful about what they put in their bodies. And they do their research.  Several of them have serious health conditions (cancer, brain tumor, pregnancy, severe migraines, to name a few). Taking a vaccine may pose extreme risk. Many learned quickly of the side effects and dangers of the vaccine which made their choice clear.

This is not just another lawsuit against the vaccine mandate.  This lawsuit 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. The employees’ serious health issues were brushed aside.  Their sincerely held religious beliefs ignored altogether.

The letters the employee’s received all said the same thing, that their unvaccinated status “will pose a direct threat to the health and safety of the patient population and the people you work with” and it “will pose an undue burden to the Northfield Hospital and Clinic staff, patients and operations.” There was no explanation of how the threat was different when they were working without a vaccine for the many months of 2020. Nor was there any discussion of the immunity that an employee may have. There was no interactive discussion at all.

The healthcare workers instead were ALL callously pushed out with indifference. Most were fired for the first time in their adult lives, losing their livelihoods, insurance, and any sense of economic security.

Working alongside Parker on the lawsuit, Attorney Alec Beck from Parker Daniels Kibort stated, “Assessment on an individual case by case basis, including the required interactive process with the employees, was entirely ignored by Northfield Hospital which is a blatant violation of the hospital workers constitutional and statutory rights.”

“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 Clinic 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,” explained Andrew Parker, founding partner, Parker Daniels Kibort.

The Complaint asserts five causes of action against Northfield Hospital and Clinic:

  1. Discrimination and Failure to Accommodate under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. The Act further requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodation to their employees sincerely held religious beliefs.
  2. Discrimination and Failure to Accommodate under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) requires employers to make reasonable accommodation to qualified employees with disabilities, and further to engage in the “interactive process” with employees in order to determine whether such accommodations are possible.
  3. Failure to Accommodate under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The Minnesota Human Rights Act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against its employees based on disability.  As part of its obligation not to discriminate based on disability, the Hospital is required to provide reasonable accommodation of the known disabilities to its employees, unless such reasonable accommodation would constitute an “undue burden” or the employee(s) in question would constitute a threat to themselves or others.
  4. Deprivation of Rights under Color of State Law. The violations of Title VII and the ADA also creates liability under federal statue Section 1983.
  5. Wrongful Discharge – Minnesota Refusal of Treatment Statute. Minnesota Statute Section 12.39 creates a right for individuals “to refuse medical treatment, testing, physical or mental examination, [or] vaccination . . .”  The law further requires that those health care professionals administering vaccination notify the individual of the right to refuse the vaccination.

As a result of their refusal to accede to the Hospital’s imposition of such illegal conditions, the Plaintiffs have been harassed, suspended, discharged (explicitly or constructively) and had their earned benefits taken away.

The Plaintiffs have each suffered and continue to suffer economic and other damages in amounts to be proven at trial, including front pay, back pay, emotional distress damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.

Read the Complaint.


Media Contact:
Litigation Counsel
Parker Daniels Kibort

Andrew Parker

Alec Beck