(CBS DETROT)- Employees at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan that refused to get the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine due to religious or other beliefs says as of Wednesday January 5, 2022 they are officially terminated. Now they're filing a lawsuit against the company.
"I know my rights I submitted my accommodation and Blue Cross Blue Shield told me that they did not believe that I held a sincere religious," said a BCBS employee.
This Blue Cross Blue Shield employee who wishes to withhold her name had been with the company for 3 years prior to today.
She and 250 other employees were terminated for not complying with the companies COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
She says even though she submitted a letter from her pastor stating her religion does not believe in vaccines. She was denied vaccine exemption and has been on unpaid leave since early December.
"I've received no payments, I'm due 80 hours of paid time off, I actually acquired over 125 hours which kind of tells you the employee that I am," said BCBS employee.
"People just don't deserve this especially people that's been there many, many years," said another BCBS employee.
This employee who wants to remain anonymous has been with the company for 7 years. She also submitted a letter from her clergy and was denied a religious vaccine exemption.
The two women along with over 100 more employees statewide plan to file a lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield, stating they were unfairly let go.
"These individuals are not challenging that vaccines should be required instead they are just submitting religious accommodations which they have a right to do under title 7 of the civil rights act," said Noah Hurwitz of Hurwitz Law, Employment Law Attorneys.
Hurwitz says more employees may be added to the lawsuit that will be filed soon.
Blue Cross Blue Shield would not comment on litigation or the reason behind the denials but sent out the following statement.
Jan. 5, 2022
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan statement
Employee vaccine requirements
"Our workplace policies and safety protocols have evolved over many months – and our employees have demonstrated, time and again, their flexibility and commitment to manage through these changes.
Our policy required employees to be vaccinated or to have received a medical or religious accommodation by Jan. 4.
Since announcing our policy on Oct. 29, over 1,900 unvaccinated employees have made the choice to receive their vaccines, or have been approved for a medical or religious accommodation. Out of more than 10,000 employees at Blue Cross and our subsidiaries, more than 96% are vaccinated. Regrettably, 250 employees chose not to comply with the company's vaccine mandate and were therefore terminated Jan. 5.
Widespread vaccination of our workforce is intended to help safeguard the collective health and well-being of our employees. Further, as a health care organization, we believe that protecting our workforce through vaccinations will save lives and help alleviate the strain COVID outbreaks are causing within Michigan's health care system.
We value and respect all our employees and recognize there are strong and diverse views on the issue of the vaccine, and on the issue of mandating it. We did not arrive at this decision lightly. We also recognize our responsibility to do our part, as a health care leader, to finish the fight against COVID-19 in our communities."
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Spokesperson
For additional information on vaccine mandates you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
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