By Zachary Stieber
A health care system that has rescinded religious exemptions from its COVID-19 vaccine mandate is ripe for lawsuits, according to a lawyer whose group has successfully challenged mandates across the country.
“It’s unlawful to rescind religious exemptions,” Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, told The Epoch Times.
Froedtert Health in Wisconsin recently decided to withdraw exemptions it had granted to some staff members.
The system made the decision after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine.
“This protein-based vaccination option eliminates conflicts for those staff with religious or medical exemptions caused by mRNA-based vaccines and other concerns. Since those staff are now eligible for a vaccination that does not conflict with their religious beliefs or medical situation, their exemption will expire,” a spokesperson for Froedtert Health told The Epoch Times via email.
Confirmatory lab tests for the messenger RNA-based (mRNA) vaccines used aborted fetal cells, according to the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute. Johnson & Johnson utilized the cells for development, production, and tests.
Novavax has said that it did not use aborted cells or tissue in the development, manufacture, or production of its vaccine, but a study on the vaccine shows that aborted fetal cells were “used in the testing phase,” Liberty Counsel said in a press release in June.
Froedtert did not respond when presented with the release and Staver’s comments.
In an email to employees published by WTMJ-TV, Froedtert informed them that their exemptions were being denied because the requests “do not meet the criteria of explaining your sincerely held religious belief that conflicts with receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, including the new Novavax vaccine.”
It said that workers had until Sept. 14 to start a primary series, and that any workers who did not were “considered voluntarily resigned” as of Sept. 21.
Froedtert said that the withdrawn exemptions affect less than 1 percent of its staff, adding, “We continue to allow valid medical exemptions and sincerely held religious exemptions for the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Liberty Counsel has successfully blocked mandates for members of the military and won a $10 million settlement for religious objectors at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Illinois.
Froedtert “may face the same fate” as NorthShore, Staver said.
Under Title VII and other laws, religious exemptions can be based on a number of reasons, the lawyer said, even if Novavax testing did not include aborted cells.
“We have many individuals that have the broader objection to these COVID shots for various reasons and they’re not limited to aborted fetal cells. It may include them but it’s not limited to them,” Staver said. “And I would say you have the same thing with the people that work in this company. So this is a very ignorant decision, and it’s going to be a very costly decision for this company.”