Oregon Health Illegally Questions Religious Beliefs

Oct 11, 2021

PORTLAND, OR – Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter to Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) on behalf of health care workers who have been unlawfully discriminated against and denied religious exemptions from the COVID shot mandate. 

OHSU ostensibly offered its employees a process for requesting a medical or religious exception to its “mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy” with all requests due by September 20, 2021. For religious exception requests, OHSU required submission of its “OHSU Member COVID-19 Vaccine Religious Exception Request Form.” However, after the submission deadline, OHSU introduced its “Vaccine Exception Review Panel” and revealed a “very narrow criteria for approving medical or religious exemptions” had been added that declares that religious beliefs leading to “objection to the vaccine on the basis of fetal cell concerns” and “objection to the vaccine based upon bodily integrity or sanctity” are insufficient for exemption from the shot mandate.

In fact, OHSU declares any such “professed beliefs” to be “personal moral choices and/or conscientious objections rather than a tenet of a religious faith.” OHSU also states that “receiving another vaccine in the last five years” is “past behavior that may disqualify an individual from receiving a religious exception.” 

In other words, OHSU unequivocally informed its employees seeking religious exceptions that they must choose between receiving a COVID-19 shot that would violate their sincerely held religious beliefs or lose their jobs. 

All health care workers are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which does provide for religious exemptions and accommodations and mandates that employers provide them. It is unlawful for OHSU to condition approval of any employee’s request for religious accommodation on agreement with its views on acceptable religious beliefs or on the employee’s past health decisions or the theological reasons for those decisions. In fact, it is legally irrelevant what other individuals think or believe. 

Oregon Health & Science University must immediately obey the law and provide reasonable accommodations to its employees to avoid litigation. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Oregon Health & Science University must obey federal law and grant reasonable accommodations to its employees whose sincere religious beliefs prohibit them from receiving these COVID shots. OHSU must also revise its deceptive and unlawful religious exemption form.” 

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