Mayo Clinic may face 100+ lawsuits over vaccine mandate

Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic could face a slew of lawsuits from employees alleging they were wrongly fired for refusing COVID-19 vaccines, the Post Bulletin reported May 18.

Gregory Erickson, a Minneapolis attorney representing two former Mayo employees who recently filed such lawsuits, told the Post Bulletin the recently filed cases are among more than 100 similar ones he is filing against Mayo.

Mr. Erickson represents fired Mayo employees in Wisconsin, Florida and Arizona, but about 80 to 100 of the cases against Mayo will be for former Mayo employees who live in Rochester, he added.

Cases have already been filed on behalf of Shelly Kiel and Sherry Ihde. In the case of Ms. Kiel, she claimed that she had natural immunity against COVID-19 after having the virus as well as having an opposition to the vaccine on religious grounds, according to the Post Bulletin. She was denied a religious exemption. Ms. Ihde claims she was denied a request for a religious accommodation to exempt her from weekly COVID-19 testing at Mayo, though her religious exemption from the vaccine was granted.

In a statement provided to the Post Bulletin about the lawsuits, Mayo said the health system "stands firmly behind the evidence supporting the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines to help protect the health and safety of our patients, workforce, visitors and communities. The Mayo Clinic COVID-19 vaccination program remains in effect. Mayo Clinic will defend its vaccine program implementation and disputes many of the factual allegations in the lawsuit."

The statement added, "Mayo Clinic recognizes that some employees have deeply held religious beliefs that led them to seek exemption from COVID-19 vaccination. In compliance with established laws, Mayo offered its employees the option to request a religious accommodation. The majority of religious exemption requests were granted."

In January, Mayo estimated it would fire about 1 percent of its 73,000-person workforce because of noncompliance with the health system's required COVID-19 vaccination program.

The health system required employees to be vaccinated or receive a medical or religious exemption. Those who were not granted an exemption had to receive at least one vaccine dose by Jan. 3 and not be overdue for a second shot, for Moderna and Pfizer. 

As of Jan. 4, nearly 99 percent of staff across all Mayo Clinic locations had complied with the required vaccination program.

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