Medical personnel discuss patients that had been admitted for testing for the coronavirus at the entrance Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston in this March 13, 2020, file photo. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit brought against Gov. Janet Mills by seven health care workers who claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine requirement violated their right to a religious exemption.

The seven health care workers,  whose names were publicly revealed in mid-July, alleged that they were all fired after they sought and were denied exemptions for religious reasons, according to the complaint.

U.S. District Judge Jon Levy ruled that if hospitals made accomodations for those workers seeking an exemption, the hospitals would be breaking state law, NewsCenter Maine reported.

“Our health care organization continues to strive always to act in the best interests of our patients and our staff in these challenging times, and we’re gratified that the Court completely validated our conduct in this matter,” a Northern Light Health spokesperson wrote after the ruling.

A Maine law that does not allow an exemption from any type of vaccine requirement, including those for school children, for religious reasons went into effect last fall. Health care workers were required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to keep their jobs in public-facing health care roles, with the rule being enforced on Oct. 29, 2021.

The governor’s vaccine mandate for health care workers was upheld by a federal judge in Maine and by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene to stop Maine’s law from going into effect. Justices allowed a similar mandate for health care workers issued by President Joe Biden to go forward.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.