Erie hospital to pay, rehire ex-workers who refused flu shots
Saint Vincent settles federal lawsuit filed by workers who claimed religious discrimination.
Saint Vincent Hospital has agreed to rehire six former employees it fired after they refused to get flu shots in late 2013 and early 2014 due to their religious beliefs.
The Erie hospital also will provide about $300,000 in back pay and compensatory damages to the employees as part of an agreement to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of the workers by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in September. A consent decree that ended the case and detailed the settlement terms was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Erie.
The commission had claimed Saint Vincent violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it fired the six workers, who refused to be vaccinated after the hospital implemented a mandatory flu vaccination policy for all employees. The hospital granted medical exemptions to 14 other workers.
“The consent decree filed this week between the EEOC and Saint Vincent Hospital does not constitute any admission of violations by Saint Vincent or a finding on the merits of the case,” Dan Laurent, a spokesman for Allegheny Health Network, Saint Vincent’s parent organization, said in an email. “Although we have vigorously and respectfully disagreed with the EEOC’s position and characterization of how employee claims outlined in this lawsuit were handled by the hospital, we have reached a resolution of the matter in the interest of avoiding the expense, delay and burden of further litigation on all parties.”
As part of the consent decree, Saint Vincent must pay the following employees back pay and compensatory damages:
Bryan Nash – $81,712.86;
Aleksandr Gevorkyan – $81,814.81;
Aza Galustyan – $54,493.85;
Joshua Dolecki – $19,608.17;
Lisa Waller – $29,503.37;
Beth Theobald – $32,866.94.