A Pickerington woman is suing Nationwide Children’s Hospital, saying she was wrongfully fired because she refused to get the COVID-19 immunization. She asserts that the hospital ought to have honored the request for a religious exemption she made as a Christian.
Invoking the violation of her civil rights, Tina Moore filed a federal civil complaint in U.S. District Court in Columbus.
She claims in the lawsuit that she was a surgical scheduler for the hospital for 24 years.
By the middle of March 2022, the hospital required all personnel to be fully immunized. Moore argues in the lawsuit that she requested a religious exemption because the vaccine violates her “sincerely held” Christian religious convictions.
Moore’s lawsuit insists that although the hospital granted other employees religious exemptions, they rejected her request.
The lawsuit states that in March, allegedly, hospital employees sent her an email claiming that she “failed to provide sufficient information showing that her religious belief, practice or observance prohibited her from receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.”
Moore claimed that she offered to elaborate and urged the hospital to reconsider her request.
“Moore offered to provide additional clarification, details, scripture, and additional information to support her sincerely held religious beliefs,” the suit stated.
She said, however, that she was denied the chance. In April 2022, the hospital put her on unpaid leave before letting her go shortly thereafter.
Moore contended in the lawsuit that the hospital should have provided her with reasonable accommodations rather than firing her, such as wearing a mask and submitting to routine COVID tests, as staff members did prior to the vaccine’s availability or requirement.
According to the lawsuit, the hospital shouldn’t have insisted she gets the shot because, by that point, more than 90 percent of the hospital employees had received vaccinations, making it more difficult for the infection to spread.
The lawsuit uses case law to argue that federal law protects religious beliefs regardless of whether it is a core principle of a particular religion.
“The Supreme Court has made it clear that it is not a court’s role to determine the reasonableness of an individual’s religious beliefs, and that ‘religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection. A person’s religious beliefs ‘need not be confined in either source or content to traditional or parochial concepts of religion,’” the suit states.
Moore alleges that because the hospital fired her, they engaged in discrimination “due to her religion” and that law “prohibits an employer from eliciting or attempting to elicit any information concerning the religion as a condition of employment.”
Moore, represented by Eric Jones of Jones Law Group in Columbus, is requesting lost past and future income and benefits, compensatory damages for “physical pain, emotional distress (and) humiliation,” along with punitive damages “to ensure the conduct of (the hospital), as demonstrated herein, does not continue, and to punish (the hospital) for inflicting the harm (Moore) has suffered and making her choose between her faith and her job.”
The Ohio Star contacted the hospital to inquire how many workers applied for and were granted exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine. A spokesperson for Nationwide Children’s Hospital declined to comment on the litigation.
“While we cannot comment on ongoing litigation, Nationwide Children’s Hospital deeply values a diverse, inclusive workforce and routinely grants exemptions based on sincerely held religious beliefs,” the spokesperson for Nationwide Children’s Hospital told The Star.
The Star reached out to Jones for comment, but he did not respond before publishing time.
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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Nationwide Children’s Hospital” by Nationwide Children’s Hospital. CC BY-SA 2.0.