For more information please call  800.727.2766


Employee Unsuccessful With Religious Objection to Flu Shot

Paul Fallon was required to get a flu shot like all hospital employees at Mercy Catholic Medical Center. Hospital policy did allow a religious exemption to the flu shot requirement. In fact, Mr. Fallon received a waiver for the first two years of the requirement based solely on his personal objection to the vaccination. However, Mercy became stricter in its application of the policy. Mr. Fallon’s personal objection was not found by the hospital to qualify as a religious objection after he failed to provide a letter from a clergyman supporting his objection.

Mr. Fallon filed suit alleging that the mandatory flu vaccination requirement violated Title VII’s religious accommodation provision.

After being quickly dismissed in a federal trial court, the case was appealed to the Third Circuit. To qualify as a religious objection to the vaccination, Mr. Fallon had to demonstrate that his religion:

“addresses fundamental and ultimate questions having to do with deep and imponderable matters; is “comprehensive in nature” such that it is a belief system rather than an isolated belief; and lastly can be identified by the “presence of certain formal and external signs.”

Mr. Fallon could not meet these standards. The sole religious belief asserted by Mr. Fallon was a Buddhist quote he understood to mean “one should not harm their own body.” The court found this belief to be more medically based than religious in this context. It was an isolated moral teaching and not reflective of a full system of beliefs about fundamental matters. He also lacked evidence showing any outward signs of his religious beliefs that would be found in a traditional faith. His objection was not protected by Title VII. The circuit court did note that there can be a valid religious objection protected under Title VII as part of a broad belief system, for example, Christian Science.