An employee at Brookdale Senior Living Center in North Oaks has issued a complaint to a federal agency saying her employer’s mandatory vaccine policy is “discriminatory.”
Daniel Rinke, a sales and marketing manager, objected to Brookdale’s mandatory vaccine policy, saying it went against their religious beliefs. He further alleged that the company granted religious exemptions to other employees, but denied himself.
True North Legal and Upper Midwest Law Center filed a complaint against the company on its behalf with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Saturday.
“I only asked Brookdale to be according to the law and to treat my coworkers equally,” Rinke said. “This kind of discrimination should never happen in this country.”
Brookdale did not answer specific questions about the allegation, nor did they define Rinke’s employment status.
The corporation responded to the queries with this statement: “Senior people are one of the highest risk population for COVID-19 infection. Our collaborative vaccination requirement, which complies with federal and state laws, was put in place to help protect our residents and allies. We will continue to protect the people who work with us and who call our communities home, as we do our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19. ,
Rinki said that he is a staunch Catholic. He objectes to the COVID vaccination because he says they have either been developed or tested using cell lines from aborted fetuses and says that taking the vaccine will add to the abortion.
When she refused to comply, Rinke said Brookdale put her on unpaid leave and threatened to fire her if she didn’t get vaccinated. According to the complaint, Brookdale cast doubt on Rinke’s integrity because she used a statement from an online template instead of writing one of her own.
Rinke countered that he used a statement to make sure the words were correct, and that it didn’t matter, nor does he feel that he had to “contrast my religious beliefs with a statement established by Brookdale’s Human Resources Department.” Must be forced to prove with arbitrary litmus test.”
He is asking for back salary, interest and lawyer’s fees. That said, he is also taking a stand for others in his position.
“Religious freedom benefits everyone. If we want freedom ourselves, we need to extend it to others even when we disagree,” said Renee Carlson, General Counsel for True North Legal. “Do we really want to live in a society where private corporations like Brookdale believe they know more about Catholic doctrine than the Archbishop?”
Saint Paul and Archbishop of Minneapolis Bernard A. Hebda has said that it is a personal and individual decision whether to receive a COVID vaccine and the Church supports the right of an individual to be exempted from vaccine requirements on that basis. of their conscience.
The EEOC has written guidance for employers and employees regarding religious objection, which is covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This provision prohibits federal agencies from discriminating against employees or applicants because of their religious beliefs in hiring, firing, and other terms and conditions of employment.
According to the EEOC’s guidance, “When making a request, employees are not required to use a ‘magic word’ such as ‘religious accommodation’ or ‘Title VII.’ However, they are required to inform the employer that their integrity There is a conflict between the religious beliefs held by the U.S. and the employer’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement.”
If an employer has an objective basis for questioning an employee’s religious claims, the employer may conduct “limited factual inquiries to obtain additional supporting information.” Employees who fail to cooperate may be denied accommodation.
Following the EEOC investigation, Rinki’s lawyers hope to proceed with further legal action.