NorthShore health centers cannot yet fire employees seeking religious exemption from vaccine mandate

Employees argued their firing violates Illinois right of conscience act, which Gov. JB Pritzker is expected to abolish
EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- A judge is blocking the firing of 14 employees with NorthShore University HealthSystem, who say they filed for religious exemptions from the health care system's COVID vaccine mandate but had their claims denied.

They argued that the firing violates the state's right of conscience act, and the judge agreed.

Just this week, Illinois lawmakers voted to abolish that act.

Gov. JB Pritzker is expected to sign the bill.

RELATED: IL Governor JB Pritzker working to close loophole exploited for vaccine mandate

NorthShore University Health System announced the COVID vaccine mandate for 18,000 employees, volunteers and contractors at its six hospitals in August, and said the employees needed to be fully vaccinated by Sunday.

At the time, NorthShore said it may make exceptions for religious or medical reasons.

The health system includes Evanston Hospital, Northwest Community Hospital and Swedish Hospital.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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