Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit religious freedom organization, landed a massive win against Chicago-based NorthShore University Health System Friday after employees sued the company over denied vaccine exemptions. Vaccine mandates were instituted by the Hospital group and left no room for employees’ religious convictions.

More than 500 current and former healthcare workers won their suit and will be awarded $10,337,500 in the settlement agreement. This is the first U.S. settlement of its kind. Likely the first in a long list of lawsuits wins to come.

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NorthShore is changing its policy to accommodate religious exemption requests and rehiring former employees who were fired or forced to resign when their requests were denied.

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Liberty Counsel filed suit on behalf of the employees, alleging they were discriminated against because they were denied religious exemptions from the company’s vaccine mandate. The settlement was filed Friday in the federal Northern District Court of Illinois.

This is the “first-of-its-kind class action settlement against a private employer who unlawfully denied hundreds of religious exemption requests to COVID-19 shots,” Liberty Counsel said.

Founder and chairman Mat Staver added it “should be a wake-up call to every employer that did not accommodate or exempt employees who opposed the COVID shots for religious reasons. Let this case be a warning to employers that violated Title VII.”

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

The conflict began after NorthShore rejected employees’ religious exemption to their “Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.”  Then during last October, Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter on behalf of the affected employees but when NorthShore refused to change its policy, Liberty Counsel filed a class action lawsuit against the company.

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