Ex-Employee Sues Mayo Clinic Over Testing Requirements

A suit was filed on Tuesday in the District of Minnesota by plaintiff Sherry Ihde against her former employer, the Mayo Clinic. The complaint alleges that the Mayo Clinic wrongfully terminated Ihde when she requested a religious accommodation to be exempt from weekly COVID-19 testing.

Ihde , the complaint says, worked for the defendant as a supervisor in their Bacteriology Lab for over 23 years. In October 2021, the defendant announced that all of its employees would be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in order to continue their employment. The complaint notes that Ihde “objected to receiving these vaccinations because of her sincerely-held religious beliefs.” Ihde requested a religious accommodation that would make her exempt from the requirement, which was granted by the defendant a month later.

In the place of vaccination, the defendant announced in December of 2021 that non-vaccinated employees would have to receive weekly COVID-19 testing. Ihde then furthered her religious accommodation request to exempt her from undergoing weekly COVID-19 testing. She also obtained permission from her supervisor that allowed her to work remotely during the period that she would be required to undergo weekly testing. However, following this permission, the defendant informed Ihde that her request for an exemption had been denied.

On February 21, 2022, the defendant terminated Ihde as a result of her refusal to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, despite Ihde’s supervisor granting her permission to work remotely. Ihde explains that just 15 days after the plaintiff’s termination, the Mayo Clinic “suspended its requirement that those who received a religious or medical exemption submit to weekly testing, demonstrating that the terminations were unnecessary or a pretext.”

The complaint cites religious discrimination and failure to accommodate under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, state law religious discrimination, discrimination and failure to accommodate under the Americans with Disabilities Act, wrongful discharge and breach of contract/promissory estoppel. The plaintiff is seeking judgment that the Mayo Clinic is liable for actual, compensatory, punitive, and treble damages, front pay, back pay, statutory penalties, and interest. Ihde is also seeking an injunction preventing the defendant from engaging in further misconduct and requiring them to restore Ihde to her previous position.

The plaintiff is represented by Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, P.A.