Employers in Clark County and around the state have recently announced vaccination requirements as a condition of employment
As more and more employers in Washington state, including PeaceHealth and the Vancouver Clinic here in Clark County, announced they will soon require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, Vancouver attorney Angus Lee issued a statement Friday reminding area residents that both state and federal law supports religious exemptions for religious objections.
The Angus Lee Law Firm is based in Vancouver, with an office located at 9105A NE Highway 99, Suite 200. In his statement, Lee cited both state and federal cases in which the exemption was upheld by courts.
Here is the text of Lee’s statement on vaccination mandates by employers:
“Employers in Washington risk violating state and federal anti-discrimination law where they choose to require that employees inject non-FDA approved, experimental Covid treatments into their bodies as a condition of employment, while also failing to make accommodations and exceptions for employees who oppose those treatments based upon bona fide religious objections.
“In Kumar v. Gate Gourmet, Inc., the Washington State Supreme Court held that the Washington Law Against Discrimination, Wash. Rev. Code 49.60.030, ‘creates a cause of action for failure to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious practices.’ 180 Wash. 2d 481 (2014). The Supreme Court also made clear that ‘[d]isparate impact and reasonable accommodation claims both prevent employers from adopting facially neutral policies that create or perpetuate discriminatory effects.’ Id. at 500. ‘[W]e hold that the WLAD creates a cause of action for failure to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious practices.’ Id. at 500-01.
Federal law also makes such religious discrimination illegal: “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer… to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion…’ 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e-2. “[F]ederal law places an affirmative duty on employers to reasonably accommodate the religious observances, practices and beliefs of their employees.’ Hiatt v. Walker Chevrolet Co., 120 Wash. 2d 57, 64 (1992) (42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e(j), 2000e-2; TWA v. Hardison, 432 U.S. 63, 75 (1977)).
“The federal requirement that employers make reasonable accommodations for employee’s religious beliefs has been held to be constitutional. In Eeoc v. Ithaca Indus., the defendant employer fired an employee after he refused to work on a Sunday due to his religious beliefs. 849 F.2d 116, 117 (4th Cir. 1988). The federal court of appeals held that the employer had violated the Civil Rights Act § 701(j), 42 U.S.C.S. § 2000e(j), by failing to make an effort to accommodate the employee’s religious beliefs. In doing so, the court concluded that the law was constitutional.
“It is well known that many of the faithful oppose Covid ‘vaccines’ on longstanding and well recognized anti-abortion religious beliefs. Such sincerely held religious beliefs are well established among Christians who adhere strictly to the anti-abortion views of the faith. As one Christian scholar stated, ‘when we use vaccines or medicines which utilize cell lines originating from aborted babies, we physically benefit from the ‘fruits’ of one of the greatest evils of mankind — the cruel genocide of the unborn. . . . As Christians, it is our duty to bear witness to the world by not accepting these vaccines and medicines.’ Likewise, citing Tobit 2:21, Father Michael Copenhagen has stated, ‘the recipient [of an abortion-tainted vaccine] is an immediate participant in the commission of continuous theft of human remains obtained through deliberate killing, their desecration through exploitation and trafficking, as well as ultimate omission to respectfully bury them.’
“Finally, since none of the current Covid “vaccines” produce “sterilizing immunity,” meaning that vaccinated individuals can (and do) still spread Covid, the firing of Christians who adhere to their faith serves no legitimate or lawful purpose. Rather, such action appears designed solely to deter their religious convictions.
“Accordingly, employers who do not provide religious exemptions and accommodations to antiabortion Christian employees who object to employer mandated Covid treatments risk running afoul of state and federal anti-discrimination law.”