Iowa Resident Initiates Legal Action Following Termination for Vaccine Refusal on Religious Grounds

A former Iowa medical-supply worker, Brandon S. Hoefer of Butler County, is taking legal action against his previous employer, NuCara, due to the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Hoefer claims that he was terminated for refusing to comply with the company’s directive to get vaccinated, asserting that the vaccine contradicted his religious beliefs, and he believed in relying on divine healing during illness.

According to Hoefer, he served as a salesman at NuCara from 2017 until November 2021, when he was dismissed for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. The lawsuit, initially filed in state court and later in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, alleges civil rights violations related to his religious convictions. Hoefer contends that his job primarily involved minimal interaction with nursing home residents but included regular face-to-face meetings with nursing home employees.

The lawsuit claims that Hoefer transitioned to remote work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, maintaining productivity comparable to in-person interactions with nursing home workers. On May 13, 2021, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued an interim rule mandating COVID-19 vaccines for all residents, clients, and staff.

Hoefer expressed concern about the rule, stating that receiving the vaccine would go against his religious beliefs. He also cited a previous anaphylactic reaction to a different vaccine and requested paperwork from NuCara for religious and medical exemptions. Despite Hoefer’s renewal of the request when vaccination requirements expanded in August and September 2021, NuCara allegedly announced its intention to mandate vaccination for all employees, denying any exemptions.

In response, Hoefer, referencing biblical passages and his belief in the sanctity of his body, submitted a letter requesting a religious exemption. He expressed his conviction that getting the COVID-19 vaccine would be a sin and contrary to his faith in divine healing.

The lawsuit alleges that NuCara rejected Hoefer’s request for accommodation, claiming it would cause undue hardship. The legal action contends that Hoefer’s prior 18 months of remote work demonstrated that accommodating his request posed no undue hardship for the company. Hoefer claims that his termination was solely due to his refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and he asserts harassment and pressure from other NuCara employees.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for civil rights violations, and as of now, NuCara has not responded to the legal proceedings.

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