Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Justice Department Sues Over County Nursing Home's Procedure For Obtaining Flu Shot Exemption

The Justice Department announced yesterday that it has filed a religious discrimination suit against a Wisconsin county because of the religious accommodation policy of a county-owned nursing home.  The complaint (full text) in United States v. Ozaukee County, Wisconsin, (ED WI, filed 3/6/2018), challenges the nursing home's requirement that a religious exemption for staff from the requirement to obtain a flu shot is available only if the staff member furnishes a letter from his or her clergy leader.  Nursing assistant Barnell Williams sought a religious exemption, but was not affiliated with any church or organized religion.  She based her religious objection on her own interpretation of the Bible.  She agreed to receive a flu shot in order to preserve her job.  However, according to the complaint:
Williams suffered severe emotional distress from receiving the flu shot in violation of her religious beliefs, including withdrawing from work and her personal life, suffering from sleep problems, anxiety, and fear of “going to Hell” because she had disobeyed the Bible by receiving the shot. These deep emotional problems stemming from having to take the flu shot have plagued Williams to the present.