Amid Flu Shot Debate, Court Says Veganism Could Qualify as Religious Belief

Court refuses to dismiss hospital worker's religious discrimination case after she was fired for refusing a flu shot.

Recent headlines have noted the number of health workers refusing to get flu shots this year due to religious convictions. But in Ohio, chicken eggs–a little-known ingredient in manufactured flu vaccines–are causing a stir after a federal district court ruled that one vegan's refusal to ingest animal by-products–including eggs–could qualify as a religious belief.

Sakile Chenzira filed suit against her former employer, Cinncinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, after the hospital fired her in 2010. Chenzira had refused to comply with a policy that requires employees to receive a flu vaccination on the basis of her vegan lifestyle.

According to the court, Chenzira argued that "such discharge violated her religious and philosophical convictions because she is a vegan, a person who does not ingest any animal or animal by-products, and that prior to 2010, Defendant accommodated her request to forgo the vaccine."

The hospital attempted to dismiss Chenzira's claim, but the court denied the ...

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