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Tennessee Woman Wins Lawsuit after She was Fired for Refusing Covid Vaccine by Her Employer

Tennessee Woman Wins Lawsuit after She was Fired for Refusing Covid Vaccine by Her Employer

A federal jury has reached a verdict in favor of a woman who was terminated from her job at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST) for refusing to comply with the company’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement. The jury has awarded her a settlement amounting to nearly $700,000.

The jury has determined that Tanja Benton’s decision to not receive the shot was rooted in a deeply-held religious belief, as she was able to demonstrate through a preponderance of evidence.

Benton was employed by the company from 2005 until November of 2022, mainly in the role of a biostatistical research scientist.

The federal lawsuit claimed that Benton’s job did not require regular contact with people. According to the lawsuit, Benton only had a small number of clients each year, with whom she had infrequent interactions, and sometimes not in person. Additionally, it was noted that Benton did not have any interaction with patients in her role.

Similar to numerous individuals, Benton’s job was impacted by the pandemic. She happily mentioned that she would be working from home for the next year and a half, without any grievances.

However, when BCBST made it mandatory for all employees to receive COVID-19 vaccines, she chose not to comply. In her lawsuit, she expressed her strong belief, backed by personal research, that all COVID-19 vaccines are developed using aborted fetus cell lines.

Benton’s lawsuit claims that she has strong moral objections to consuming the vaccine, believing that it would not only harm her body but also go against her religious beliefs and values as reported by NBC Montana.

Benton has requested a religious exemption from BCBST’s vaccine mandate. However, BCBST rejected her request, stating that she was unable to pursue her career as a biostatistical research scientist.

Benton filed an appeal, arguing that her workday did not involve any interaction with people. In response, a company representative firmly stated that there are no exceptions for individuals with Benton’s job title and recommended that she explore other job opportunities.

After BCBST made the decision to terminate Benton’s employment, she took the step of filing a lawsuit in federal court.

The federal jury’s verdict included an award of $177,240 in back pay, $10,000 in compensatory damages, and $500,000 in punitive damages, resulting in a total of $687,240 for Benton.

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