April 3, 2020 / 7:31 PM / 2 months ago

Ex-NYU hospital employee who refused flu vaccine sues over his firing

A former employee at NYU Langone Medical Center sued the New York City hospital on Friday, claiming it illegally fired him because he refused on religious grounds to obtain a mandatory flu vaccination.

Mitchell Weiner said he was fired in March 2017 after 9-1/2 years of employment, most recently as associate director of enterprise tools, because the hospital refused to accommodate his “sincerely held religious belief that prohibited him from obtaining a flu vaccine.”

In his complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, Weiner said the hospital rejected his request for an exemption, and did not respond to his request for a “reasonable accommodation” to work remotely from home.

Weiner said his job involved no contact with patients, and that he was fired three weeks after being suspended without pay for rejecting the vaccination requirement, which took effect in October 2016. The complaint did not specify Weiner’s religion.

NYU Langone, which like many hospitals is now focused on treating patients with COVID-19, the potentially lethal respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Andrew Frisch, a lawyer at Morgan & Morgan representing Weiner, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Weiner is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for alleged religious discrimination and retaliation that violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

He sued after receiving a Dismissal and Notice of Right to Sue last month from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where he filed a discrimination charge in June 2017.

The case is Weiner v NYU Langone Hospitals, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 20-02786.

For plaintiff: Andrew Frisch of Morgan & Morgan

For NYU Langone: Not known

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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