Attorney General’s Temporary Restraining Order Prevents Ascension Healthcare From Firing Unvaccinated Workers
Beverly Cantrell - November 12, 2021 10:34 pm
TULSA, Oklahoma –
Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor filed for a temporary restraining order against Ascension Healthcare on Friday.
Just as the “Termination Day” prayer service was concluding Friday at Ascension St. John Jane Phillips, news broke that the state of Oklahoma was granted a temporary retaining order preventing the health system from enforcing its employee vaccination mandate.
The AG says the restraining order is an attempt “to protect Oklahoma’s faithful frontline healthcare heroes from religious discrimination” in respect to vaccine mandates and firing unvaccinated workers.
“We will not tolerate any form of religious discrimination against Oklahomans who seek reasonable accommodations from vaccine mandates based on their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor said.
The District Court of Tulsa County granted the emergency temporary restraining order just hours after the announcement, stopping Ascension from carrying through with the terminations.
“This evening, the Tulsa District Court granted the State’s Application for Temporary Restraining Order in our case to keep Ascension Healthcare from carrying out its plan to fire employees who were unfairly denied religious exemptions from their nationwide COVID-19 vaccination mandate. This is a win for religious freedom and our office will continue to fight against unlawful religious discrimination.”
Ascension health systems operate in 19 states in the U.S., including many sites across Oklahoma. Ascension issued the following statement in reply to the filing.
As a leading healthcare provider, we continue to put the safety of our associates and those we are privileged to serve at the forefront of everything we do. This is why we have required our associates to receive both the COVID-19 vaccine and the influenza vaccine.
We want patients to be assured and comforted with the knowledge that our doctors and nurses, other clinicians and associates, working in one of our hospitals or other sites of care, will either be vaccinated against both COVID-19 and influenza, or in the instances of exemptions or accommodations, be complying with additional infection prevention protocols. Patients and their loved ones should have that peace of mind as they entrust us with their care.
“Healthcare heroes who sought a religious exemption on this and other sincerely held religious belief grounds have been flatly rejected by Ascension,” noted O’Connor. “In so doing, Ascension committed religious discrimination against Oklahoma healthcare heroes who oppose abortion.”
In July, Ascension announced that it will require all its associates nationwide to get the COVID-19 vaccine by November 12. Some workers have protested the mandate with some already quitting.
Employees Chezney Thompson and Mike Schonner spoke outside Ascesion St. Johns Jane Phillips Hospital after losing thier jobs on Friday. (Photo: Andy Dossett-Examiner-Enterprise)