It begins: Tennessee bio scientist who was fired for refusing Covid vaccine awarded $700,000 in damages

by WorldTribune Staff, July 2, 2024 Contract With Our Readers

A Tennessee bio scientist who was fired by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST) for refusing to receive the mandated Covid injection for employees has been awarded nearly $700,000, according to a lawsuit settlement obtained by Nashville’s Fox-17.

Tanja Benton refused to get the jab, saying in her lawsuit that she “firmly believes, based upon personal research, that all COVID-19 vaccines are derived from aborted fetus cell lines.” Benton said she “cannot in good conscience” receive the shot because it “would not only defile her body but also anger and dishonor God.”

A federal jury found that Benton “proved by a preponderance of the evidence” that her decision to refuse the shot was based on a “sincerely held religious belief.”

The jury awarded Benton more than $177,000 in back pay, $10,000 in compensatory damages, and $500,000 in punitive damages.

Benton worked at BCBST from 2005 through November 2022 primarily as a bio statistical research scientist. She said in the lawsuit that her job did not include regular contact with people, Fox-17 reported. She said she only interacted with 10 to 12 clients each year and sometimes those occasional interactions were not in person.

The lawsuit also noted that Benton never had contact with BCBST patients as part of her job.

Benton said she worked from home for a year and a half during the pandemic, and didn’t have any complaints until BCBST announced employee vaccine requirements when she submitted a request for a religious exemption. The company denied it and told her she could not keep her job unless she took the injection.

Benton appealed and explained she did not come into contact with people at her job, but was allegedly told there were no exceptions for anyone with her job title. It was also suggested that she start looking for another job, according to the lawsuit.

BCBST ultimately fired Benton, which led her to file the federal lawsuit.

“The vaccine requirement was the best decision for the health and safety of our employees and members – some of whom are the most vulnerable in the state – and our communities,” BCBST previously told Fox-17. “We appreciate our former employees’ service to our members and communities throughout their time with BlueCross.”

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