Nov. 12, 2021
OKLAHOMA CITY – In a move to protect Oklahoma’s frontline healthcare heroes from religious discrimination, the State of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit on Friday to block Ascension Healthcare, one of the nation’s largest healthcare networks, from carrying out its plan to fire employees who have been denied religious exemptions from Ascension’s nationwide COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
In court filings, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office of Civil Rights Enforcement says it began an investigation into AscensionHealthcare after receiving several civil rights complaints. In reviewing the complaints, the attorney general says it determined the hospital system was summarily denying religious exemption requests to the COVID-19 vaccines.
Before filing suit, Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor says he made a personal attempt to speak with leaders of Ascension to persuade them to not suspend or fire people because of their sincerely held religious beliefs. Ascension refused to accommodate such requests,O’Connor said.
“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,” O’Connor said in a press release.
Late Friday afternoon, Tulsa County District Judge William D. LaFortune granted the state’s motion to temporarily blockAscension Healthcare from firing unvaccinated workers.
O’Connor heralded the victory, “This is a win for religious freedom and our office with continue to fight against the unlawfulreligious discrimination.”
Follow the case here and see the state’s request for a temporary restraining order below: