QUINCY — A temporary restraining order was issued against Blessing Corporate Services and Quincy Medical Group from enforcing a COVID vaccination requirement.
In his ruling Thursday, Judge Tad Brenner said the 11 Blessing and QMG employees who faced imminent termination for neither meeting the vaccine requirement nor submitting to weekly testing would suffer from irreparable harm and that their employment shall be maintained. Brenner set a hearing for Wednesday
The employees’ attorney, Tom DeVore, argued extensively that state law did not allow for employees to be forced to receive a COVID vaccination or be tested.
According to the filing, employees were notified in September they would be required to become vaccinated for COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing. It added that this policy was being compelled upon the employees by an executive order from Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
DeVore highlighted the Health Care Right of Conscience Act arguing they can refuse the vaccine and weekly testing as it is contrary to their conscience. He noted the broad language in the law.
“These rights are so important, that we have statutes to protect these rights,” DeVore argued in court.
QMG’s attorney, Jim Hansen, argued that a lawsuit should be filed against Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health, not the health care providers who must enforce it.
Hansen also argued that at-will employees could be terminated without cause, but if they felt were wrongly terminated they could file suit.
Blessing’s attorney, Chris Scholz, agreed that the governor and Department of Public Health should be the parties in the case.
Both Hansen and Scholz said no employees were terminated, though at least five of the employees in the suit raised their hand when DeVore asked if any have been terminated.
After the hearing, Scholz and DeVore engaged in an argument over the Blessing employees, with Scholz contending that they would not be “treating sick people.”
DeVore said that he would file a motion seeking that Blessing be held in contempt of the ruling if it takes that course of action.
“If they’re still working, they still work,” DeVore said outside the courthouse. “If they’ve been temporarily suspended, they stay there. They can’t be fired.”
“The facts are if you’re excluded and not allowed in, that isn’t a termination,” Hansen said. “I think there’s some confusion there on people thinking they’re terminated when they’re not being allowed into the workplace based on a policy in regards to what the order and the rules are.”