Hospital Worker Sakile Chenzira Fired For Refusing Flu Shot, Cites Veganism

Flu shot: Vegan hospital worker Sakile Chenzira refused one and was fired.

More employers are requiring flu shots -- and firing workers who don't comply.

Indeed, workers across the country are resisting the drive to mandate the vaccine, as was reported by AOL Jobs and USA Today.

The workers are citing medical reasons like allergies and questions over the vaccine's efficacy, even though a recent study by The Lancet found the vaccine to be 59 percent effective. They are also making the choice amid a particularly brutal year for the flu; the percentage of people seeing health care providers for flu symptoms has stood at 5.6 percent for the past four weeks, as compared to 2.2 percent last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

But Sakile Chenzira, who worked as a customer service representative for the Cincinnati Children's Hospital until 2010, has introduced a new reason. Chenzira was fired 14 months ago after refusing to take a shot because, she said, her adherence to a vegan diet prohibited her from taking medicine that was contains egg products. She referred to her choice as one she made for "religious" reasons, reported the Ohio Employer's Law Blog.

Soon after she was terminated, Chenzira filed suit on religious discrimination. And in an opinion issued before the end-of-year recess, a U.S. District Court in Ohio said Chenzira's argument is worth considering.

More: Mandatory Flu Shot Or You're Fired


"The court finds it plausible that [Chenzira] could subscribe to veganism with a sincerity equating that of traditional religious views," Judge S. Arthur Spiegel wrote.

That means that Chenzira's case will continue, and the question of whether her veganism rises to the crucial level of a "sincerely held religious belief" is worth exploring in court. The question of whether Chenzira can continue her employment is open.

Crucial to deciding whether Chenzira should be protected by religious discrimination laws is her motivation for a vegan diet, AOL Jobs employment law expert Donna Ballman said by email. The vegan rationale does not guarantee a worker job protection when refusing a shot requirement, but it might apply.

"A person who practices veganism for moral reasons may be protected against religious discrimination, where a person who practices veganism for health or environmental reasons may not be protected," Ballman wrote in her book, Stand Up For Yourself Without Getting Fired.

There is a precedent for workers claiming veganism as a religious belief. In 2002, Jerold Freedman made an argument similar to Chenzira's in refusing a mumps vaccine. He had been hired by the Kaiser Health Foundation to work as a computer contractor at a Kaiser pharmaceutical warehouse in Southern California. Freedman said that he couldn't comply with a mandate to take a mumps vaccine because the vaccine was grown in chicken embryos.

A California Appeals Court dismissed his lawsuit, though, saying "veganism is not a 'religious creed.' "

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Dan Fastenberg

Dan Fastenberg

Associate Editor

Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

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Lola Mtl

First of all, "Sakile Chenzira, worked as a customer service representative for the Cincinnati Children's Hospital. ..." where she could easily contract, and spread viruses to vulnerable patients. That is why flu shots are generally mandatory for workers in hospitals. i respect her vegan commitment but not at the risk of these.patients. Hopefully there will be future vaccines that don't use animal products.
In the meantime, ...My brother is vegan, he didn't get a flu shot, and is presently in an Intensive Care Unit due to douple pneumonia as a secondary infection from this horrible flu. He almost died 2 days ago.

January 19 2013 at 10:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dixie Darling

http://www.bewellbuzz.com/general/10-reasons-flu-shots-dangerous-flu/

January 19 2013 at 5:04 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Dixie Darling

Sakile Chenzira is a very smart woman! I have never had a flu shot and never will because I know how dangerous they are and some of the stuff they put in it. Even health care professionals have been told not to get one because of the dangers. Some of you that are putting her down because you feel she SHOULD have a flu shot need to wake up and do some research and stop being a sheeple and believing the lies you are being told about what is healthy and what is not. Here is just ONE of many examples on what you can find that warns people not to fall for the lies. Just like milk is promoted to help your bones, Milk actually destroys your bones! http://www.bewellbuzz.com/general/10-reasons-flu-shots-dangerous-flu/

January 19 2013 at 4:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dixie Darling's comment
dkodmdms

Don't believe EVERYTHING you read on the internet Dixie.........but if YOU don't want to get the flu shot, I hope you don;t die from the flu as hundreds have already in SC.......

Autism? Really such a hoax......read the story about the fraudulent researcher and how he lost his medical license and recanted to entire study.

January 27 2014 at 2:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hi

So long as your actions do not impact the rights of others, I'm all for your right to choose. Failure to take precautions in a medical facility where your actions could spread disease and result in the illness or death of others is inexcusable.

January 15 2013 at 11:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Hello, Mary

One word: Fanatic!

January 15 2013 at 10:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Hello, Mary's comment
kingofswords72

She's a Hindu, their religion mandates a vegetarian diet.

January 27 2014 at 10:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
disc0pat

Hope she gets the flu and has to stay home and use her sick and vacation days. Well, not really, but people in hospitals should realize how they put the sick at risk. They often have immune problems or are frail.

January 15 2013 at 8:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to disc0pat's comment
kingofswords72

She hasn't worked for the hospital for quite a while, they fired her for not getting the shot.

January 27 2014 at 10:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
NIGHTSUB

Freedom in America is limited to what you will put up with.Really.

January 15 2013 at 7:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dmr1946nut4

Most of my family get very sick after getting the flu shot. Once was all it took for me and I have never had the flu shot or the flu since. We must have a resistense to the flu. Why get a flu shot if you get very sick from it? Doesn't that make sense?

January 15 2013 at 1:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to dmr1946nut4's comment
disc0pat

You were probably already sick, and you should not get any shot when sick. You CANNOT get the flu from a flu shot as they use dead germs. Sheesh!

January 15 2013 at 8:38 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to disc0pat's comment
kingofswords72

Some vaccines are just weakened viruses, not neccesarlity dead viruses. And yes, many people do get sick after getting the flu shots. Even if the organism is dead it still gets the bodies immune system fired up for it and the immune system itself is what causes some of the sick feelings.

January 27 2014 at 10:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Mike

If you get "sick" from the shot, its all in your head. The virus used in the flu shot is a dead virus, therefore, meaning it can NOT get you sick.

January 15 2013 at 10:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mike's comment
kingofswords72

Most people don't go home after a flu shot thinking "gee I'll probably get sick because of this shot", whether consciously or sub-consciously. They get sick because the flu shot (even though dead, or weakened) still causes the immune system to react to it causing ill effects.

January 27 2014 at 10:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
mbernst126

People should take the flu shot. and stop with the BS excuses why they cannot get one. Unless a person has allergies it should be taken. Life is too short. Use all the tools available to live longer and taking the flu shot will give you that chance

January 15 2013 at 12:02 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mbernst126's comment
kingofswords72

People should do what their instincts tell them are the correct thing to do for them. Stop all the BS that EVERYONE should get a flu shot. Having a healthy immune system is all that is needed to conquer any bouts with the flu. It seems like a tossup as to how many people have died from the flu and how many have died from getting the shots. They gave flu shots in Europe a few years ago and now many people have come down with narcolepsy (falling asleep without warning) as a direct result of the shots.

January 27 2014 at 10:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan

Religion literally kills.

January 14 2013 at 11:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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