EEOC Sues Employer For Failure to Accommodate Religious Objection to Flu Vaccine Mandate

On December 15, 2022, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) filed a lawsuit against Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (“CHOA”) after CHOA terminated an employee for refusing to receive a flu vaccine after he requested a religious exemption to the requirement.

The employer allegedly granted the employee an exemption to the flu vaccine requirement in 2017 and 2018 but denied his request for the same accommodation in 2019 and proceeded to terminate his employment shortly thereafter.  The lawsuit is based on Title VII’s requirement that employers accommodate employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer. Although the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia has yet to make any substantive rulings in the case, it indicates the EEOC’s stance towards religious accommodations for flu vaccination requirements.

School districts should note that this is not the same issue as the previously reported vaccinate-or-test mandate litigation because Illinois’ weekly COVID-19 testing alternative served as a built-in accommodation to vaccination.  In this case, the flu vaccination requirement had no alternatives, and the employee’s failure to receive the flu vaccine led to termination.

We will continue to monitor and report on this case as there are substantive developments. If you have any questions, please reach out to Barb Erickson, Frazier Satterly, or any other attorney in our Labor/Personnel Practice Group.

Source: EEOC Sues Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for Religious Discrimination