June 04, 2016

State College nurse sues hospital, says vaccination policy violates religious beliefs

A registered nurse is suing a hospital in Central Pennsylvania claiming she was improperly removed from her position in the obstetrics and gynecology group because of her refusal to be vaccinated due to her religious beliefs.

According to the Centre Daily Times, Rebecca Smith, of Alexandria, filed a federal civil rights suit Wednesday in U.S. Middle District Court against Mount Nittany Medical Center Health Services Inc. and Mount Nittany Health System.

The complaint says Smith could not work around babies because she was not vaccinated for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

Smith was hired in 2011 before the shots were required. While Smith was on family leave in March 2015 due to a birth of a child, she was informed the vaccinations were mandatory.

When Smith returned to work, she wanted to opt out because of her religious beliefs. Instead, Smith was removed from the OB/GYN department and not reassigned until February, almost eight months later.

Smith is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, including back pay, benefits and any salary increases or promotions to which she would have been entitled if not fired.

“At Mount Nittany Health, our mission is to make people healthier and to implement reasonable precautions to protect our patients, employees and visitors from infectious diseases. As with any pending legal matter, we are not able to provide further comment,” said MNMC Manager of Marketing and Communications Lee Ann Tripp in a statement on the report.