Saint Thomas Health to pay $75,000 to settle lawsuit with EEOC over flu shot

Posted at 1:43 PM, Apr 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-18 14:43:38-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Saint Thomas Health (STH) - which operates Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro - will pay $75,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit filed against them by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

According to the EEOC, STH required all employees at Saint Thomas Rutherford to have an annual flu shot. This includes employees of TouchPoint Support Services, which provides food and environmental services at the website.

Because of religious beliefs, STH allowed a TouchPoint employee to wear a protective mask in lieu of having the shot in 2013 and 2014. When the employee asked again if he could wear the mask instead of getting the shot in 2015, STH denied the request.

The employee refused, at which point STH told him and TouchPoint he could not work at the hospital. TouchPoint fired the employee.

The Nashville Area Office investigated the discrimination charge, and determined that such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Act in question requires employers to provide accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs of employees.

After STH's conduct was determined to violate the Civil Rights Act, the EEOC filed the suit against Saint Thomas. While STH denied wrongdoing, the organization chose to settle prior to the trial.

STH will pay $75,000 to the former TouchPoint employee, as well as modify its accommodation policies to more closely adhere to the Civil Rights Act and its protection of religious beliefs.

STH is also going to provide annual training on the policy update to human resources employees in the company.

“We commend St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital for working quickly to resolve this litigation,” said Faye A. Williams, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office. “This settlement will ensure that employees who seek religious accommodations in the workplace for sincerely held religious beliefs are protected.”