MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- As Omicron cases spike in Minnesota and across the country, the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the mandate requiring millions of workers to be vaccinated.
A year from retirement, clinical nurse educator Ellen Tichich was fired from Northfield Hospital at the end of October.
"It did disrupt my life for sure," Tichich told WCCO.
After surviving a brain tumor that led to facial paralysis, she worried about a rare COVID vaccine side effect.
Her exemptions were denied.
"Personally, what I hope the Supreme Court does is protect our freedom," she said.
Tichich is one of 20 former employees suing Northfield Hospital for what they call a blanket denial of their medical and religious exemptions.
Northfield Hospital and Clinics told WCCO it stands by its vaccination policy.
The mandate has perhaps played out most publicly at Minnesota's hospitals.
As hundreds of healthcare workers across the state have been let go.
While the terminations have been driven by employer policy, legal experts believe a Supreme Court decision will still have implications moving forward.
Employment law attorney Sara Sidwell is working with dozens of large employers awaiting guidance.
"It's just a guessing game. I think it's going to be a real nail-biter weekend," Sidwell said of the decision.
She believes the recent surge in COVID cases could play a role.
She's telling managers to have two e-mails prepared, depending on the court's decision with the goal of clearing up confusion looming for months for millions of Americans.
"I think it's really critical that employers be prepared to openly, effectively, and quickly communicate with their employees. Just to get in front of questions that are bound to come up," she said.
As of right now, the vaccine or test mandates at large employers across the country are set to take effect on Feb. 9.
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