A lawsuit in which former Nike Inc. employees accuse the shoe company of unlawfully requiring them to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is proceeding.
U.S. District Judge for Oregon, Michael Simon, partially denied Nike’s motion to dismiss on July 31.
“The Court grants in part and denies in part Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss,” the 4-page order states. “The Court dismisses Plaintiffs’ first claim for relief, allowing only Plaintiff Thibodo leave to amend. Plaintiff Thibodo may file an amended complaint within two weeks from the entry of this Order to cure deficiencies in Thibodo’s allegations in the first claim. The Court denies Defendant’s motion with respect to Plaintiffs’ second and third claims for relief.”
The second and third claims that Judge Simon is allowing to proceed are violations of Title VII under the Civil Rights Act and religious discrimination.
“Nike attorneys actually said during oral argument that it was just a policy and that it wasn’t really a threat but what they wrote to their employees specifically said that failure to comply would result in certain ramifications up to and including termination,” said Leslie Manookian, president of Health Freedom Defense Fund, which is supporting the plaintiffs. “They tried to argue in front of the judge that it was just a policy and that it wasn’t real.”
In Kerkering et al. vs. NIKE, Inc., the plaintiffs alleged that Nike violated their Constitutionally-protected religious freedoms by denying accommodation of their sincerely held religious beliefs against the COVID-19 vaccine.
Doug Kerkering, Wanda Rozwadowska, and Hannah Thibodo earned six figures and had no record of discipline while working at Nike’s Beaverton corporate headquarters.
“Corporations do this all the time, and defendants do this all the time,” Manookian told Legal Newsline. “They mount a motion to dismiss because the best outcome for them is making the whole thing go away. They don’t want to litigate. They don’t want to defend themselves. They don’t want their executives to be deposed, and they certainly don’t want us to look at their internal communications through the process of discovery.”
As previously reported in the Epoch Times, one of the plaintiffs asserted a claim of battery against Nike as the company repeatedly refused her request for a religious accommodation.
“It’s the first time that I know of that someone has actually said that these vaccine mandates amount to battery,” Manookian added. “It’s a forced kind of touching that is unwanted and it also has resulted in an injury. So, I think that’s a really important issue for us to adjudicate.”