NorthShore reaches $10.3M settlement in vaccine mandate case

Evanston, Ill.-based NorthShore University HealthSystem has agreed to pay more than $10.3 million to resolve allegations over its COVID-19 shot mandate, Evanston Now reported July 29.

The settlement signifies the nation's first classwide lawsuit for healthcare workers over a COVID shot mandate, according to Liberty Counsel, a Christian organization that filed the lawsuit on behalf of employees who were denied a religious exemption for the health system's COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The settlement agreement was filed on Friday, July 29 in the federal Northern District Court of Illinois. 

As part of the agreement, Liberty Counsel said NorthShore will change its policy to allow unvaccinated employees to work if they have an approved religious exemption. Religious exemptions must now be considered on a case-by-case basis, rather than denied to all employees. 

In addition, unvaccinated employees who were let go because they claimed religious exemptions are now eligible to be brought back. 

Liberty Counsel estimates employees who quit or were fired will receive approximately $25,000 each, and the original 13 plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit will get around $20,000 more. 

"We continue to support systemwide, evidence-based vaccination requirements for everyone who works at NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health and thank our team members for helping to keep our communities safe," NorthShore said in a statement to Becker's.

The health system added that the settlement "reflects implementation of a new system-wide vaccine policy which will include accommodation for team members with approved exemptions, including former employees who are rehired."

The settlement still needs to be approved by a federal judge overseeing the case.

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