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Atlanta Employment Law Attorney / Blog / Employment Law / EEOC Settles Suit On Behalf of Fired Maintenance Worker Who Requested Religious Exemption to Flu Vaccine Requirements

EEOC Settles Suit On Behalf of Fired Maintenance Worker Who Requested Religious Exemption to Flu Vaccine Requirements


The EEOC recently settled a lawsuit filed against Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for firing an employee who refused to get an influenza vaccine due to sincerely held religious beliefs. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta agreed to pay the worker $45,000 to settle claims that it violated his civil rights to the free practice of his religion.

The EEOC charged in its suit that the maintenance employee requested a religious exemption to the flu virus. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta granted the employee a religious exemption in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, however, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta denied the employee’s right to religious accommodation and fired him, according to the EEOC. The EEOC contended in their suit that the employee worked primarily outside and did not interact with other employees or patients regularly.

Violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 

The hospital’s conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits the firing of an employee because of their religion and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs. Employers may ask employees for an explanation of their sincerely held religious beliefs that prevent them from taking a vaccine. An employer may also ask for documentation from the employee’s religious leader regarding vaccines. One of the most common examples of religious arguments against vaccines is that vaccines use fetal cells in the development stage and are thus morally wrong.

The settlement 

Under the consent decree that resolved the lawsuit, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta will pay the employee $45,000 in damages. The hospital will also adjust its influenza vaccine religious exemption policy to presume the exemption eligibility of employees who either work from home or have limited contact with the public and other employees. In the event that a religious exemption is denied, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta will protect the right of employees claiming religious exemptions to seek alternative positions within the hospital. The decree further requires Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to train relevant employees on religious accommodation rights under Title VII.


In this case, it helped the employee’s case that his work did not require him to interact with the public or other employees on a daily basis. Much of the work he performed was outside of the building. Employers can require that employees who work with the public, patients, or around other employees be vaccinated. They cannot, however, fire the employee for refusing vaccination. They have the option of moving the employee to remote work or a position that does not require them to work with the public.

Talk to an Atlanta, GA Employment Discrimination Attorney Today 

Forsythe Law Firm, LLC represents the rights of employees who have been unlawfully discriminated against in the workplace. Call our Atlanta employment lawyers today to schedule a free consultation, and we can begin fighting for your rights right away.



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