Virus Outbreak Vaccine Rollout

In this March 3, 2021, file photo, pharmacist Madeline Acquilano draws a syringe of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Conn. 

(The Center Square) – A suburban judge granted a temporary restraining order to a group of nurses who sued Riverside Healthcare over the hospital system's vaccine mandate.

Kankakee County Judge Nancy Nicholson granted the temporary restraining order until Nov. 19. She will then hold a hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction requested by the nurses.

Liberty Justice Center Managing Attorney Daniel Suhr said the ruling was a win.

“Today’s ruling marks an important step toward victory for these nurses – and it sends a signal to all Americans about the importance of fighting for your rights,” he said. “Employers and government officials should take note that forcing people to violate their conscience not only is wrong, it’s illegal. No one should be forced to choose between keeping their job and sacrificing their beliefs.”

The nurses sued Riverside Healthcare on Oct. 13 claiming the state's Health Care Right of Conscience Act gives them the right to refuse the COVID-19 vaccine. The nurses said their religious beliefs conflict with getting the vaccine.

Neelie Panozzo, Amy Memenga, and four other nurses, whose names have not been released, were told by Riverside Healthcare officials that they would be terminated by Oct. 31 if they do not get vaccinated against COVID-19. They said their request for exemptions was denied.

The Liberty Justice Center, which represents the nurses, is a national nonprofit law firm.

Regional Editor

Brett Rowland has worked as a reporter in newsrooms in Illinois and Wisconsin. He most recently served as news editor of the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake, Illinois. He previously held the same position at the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb.