Clinic business

Mayo Clinic sued over termination of COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Less than five months after laying off more than 700 employees who failed to receive a self-imposed COVID-19 vaccine, the Mayo Clinic is facing legal action from a former worker, employee.

In early January, the Rochester-based health system confirmed it had laid off more than 700 employees, or about 1% of a total of 73,000 across all Mayo Clinic sites.

Former employee-turned-plaintiff Shelley Kiel filed a lawsuit demanding a jury trial, alleging the Mayo Clinic lacked a case-by-case analysis or individualized interactive process to review religious exemptions, and that their dismissals were predetermined.

Mayo instituted a company-wide Jan. 3, 2022, deadline to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and not be late for a second dose for the Moderna and Pfizer versions. Only medical or religious exemptions were allowed, “the majority of which were approved,” Mayo said at the time.

“This is a time when Mayo Clinic must stand firmly behind the evidence supporting the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccines to help protect the health and safety of our patients, staff , our visitors and our communities…Based on science and data, it’s clear that vaccination keeps people out of hospital and saves lives,” the clinic said in a statement. communicated.

According to the complaint, Kiel had previously tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered, giving her natural immunity. Throughout 2020 and 2021, she has been asked to work alone, as well as additional shifts to cover increased treatment and care for patients at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic – doing so without being vaccinated.

Kiel requested a religious exemption from the vaccine mandate because she “is a Christian who believes, based on her interpretation of Scripture, that her body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and that this violates her religious beliefs and conscience. to get vaccinated.”

“Rather than engage in a legitimate interactive process, respect the sincerity of religious beliefs, or attempt reasonable accommodation, Mayo used boilerplate language to justify his predetermined outcome,” according to the complaint. Remote work accommodations were not offered.

The complaint further alleges that throughout the process, Mayo staff were further instructed to “endorse the vaccine or say nothing.”

Just months after firing Kiel, Mayo rescinded part of his vaccination mandate – demonstrating that the firings were either unnecessary or a pretext, according to the lawsuit.

Mayo Clinic is Minnesota’s largest employer and also operates hospitals and clinics in Arizona, Florida, Iowa and Wisconsin.

FOX 9 has contacted Mayo Clinic for comment, but has not yet received a response. This is a developing story, check back for updates.