The Abilene Freedom League had the opportunity to have a one-on-one interview with the woman in question last week. We will not provide her name to ensure that she is not the target of any social or legal attacks. For the purpose of this article, we will refer to the woman as Jade.
“Jade” began the interview by giving a little background about when and where she worked. She worked for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) from August of 2021 to December of 2021 when she was fired for refusing the organization's illegal Covid Vaccination Mandate. She was unemployed as a result of the pandemic but got hired on in August of last year by the IRC as the Cash Assistance Coordinator. Her job was to assist refugees as they applied for funds for basic needs. On a typical workday, she would interact with 15-20 people through email and around five in-person when working the front desk. There were roughly 20 people working at the Abilene branch of the IRC. They had the standard sanitizer stations, “6-foot rule”, cleaning wipes, and mask mandate. The mask mandate was heavily enforced as the overall environment was one of “fear”.
“Jade” was notified in mid-September about the upcoming vaccine mandate. IRC wanted everyone vaccinated by October 1. If you weren't vaccinated by then, you would be fired. An Abilene Freedom League board member asked why she chose not to take the vaccine and she said “I didn't take the vaccine because first of all when I did the research on it and I've never been a person to really check into vaccines, but I did with this one because it was new. I said I was gonna do my research on it and come to find out they used stem lines from aborted babies. If any medicine or vaccine is going to....with the covid 19 vaccine they used stem line from aborted babies. Then on the research, I believe on the CDC website, they showed that they tested some of the vaccines and stuff on aborted babies. I am against that because I am pro-life. That is the main reason why I didn't take the vaccine.” The board member followed this up by asking if she had attempted to get a religious exemption. She said “I did. I sent it to the HR specialist over my district and I talked to her about why I was not going to take the vaccine due to the stem lines and them using aborted babies cells in the research. That was against my spiritual beliefs.”
As the Abilene Freedom League has already covered, while no vaccine manufacturer has publicly admitted to fetal cells being present in the vaccine itself, they all did use fetal cells at some point during the production process. Pfizer and BioNTech used abortion-derived fetal cell line HEK-293 during early phase development. Moderna used abortion-derived fetal cell line HEK-293 during protein testing. Johnson & Johnson used abortion-derived fetal cell line PER.C6 during manufacturing and production. Sputnik V used abortion-derived fetal cell line HEK-293 during manufacturing.
Our board member followed up by asking what the HR response was? She said “It took her almost two weeks for her to get back with me. They did not accept my religious exemption, which they knew I was a Christian before I ever got hired. I let that be known. I am all about God, integrity, and trying to help people but I am not going to be forced to do something that is against my God for money. I am not gonna do that.”
Not only is that a powerful stance to take, but it is also one that is covered under Federal Law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination based on religion, national origin, race, color, or sex. The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. Furthermore, Title VII requires an employer to reasonably accommodate the religious practices of an employee or prospective employee, unless doing so would create an undue hardship for the employer. The law requires an employer or other covered entity to reasonably accommodate an employee's religious beliefs or practices unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on the operations of the employer's business. This means an employer may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his or her religion. Examples of some common religious accommodations include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutions or swaps, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies or practices. “Jade” is a Christian woman who is pro-life and believes that abortion is wrong, as is supporting it. The fact that all the vaccines used aborted fetal cells at some point in the process is more than enough for a religious exemption. It is illegal to fire someone because of their religious beliefs. The law requires that the employer make reasonable accommodations, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace policies. Most of “Jade's” interactions with clients were done over email. There could have been modifications to the office area or they could have allowed for her to do the bulk of her job remotely.
Not only is firing someone because of their religious beliefs illegal under Title VII Federal Law but it was also illegal under Texas law at the time they did this. “Jade” was fired at the start of December 2021 but Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an Executive Order on August 25, 2021. That was two weeks before IRC even informed employees about their illegal vaccine mandates. The Abbott EO states “No governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.” In part three of the EO, it states “Any public or private entity that is receiving or will receive public funds through any means, including grants, contracts, loans, or other disbursements of taxpayer money, shall not require a consumer to provide, as a condition of receiving any service or entering any place, documentation regarding the consumer’s vaccination status for any COVID-19 vaccine.” Governor Abbot made it even more clear through an October 11 Executive Order which said “No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19. I hereby suspend all relevant statutes to the extent necessary to enforce this prohibition.” Our board member asked “Jade” what was the termination process like? After they denied your exemption, did they attempt to do any counseling or interviews to try and get you to be vaccinated before they just fired you? “They did give me a number to talk to a counselor through a third party company. They also told me we are going to let you work until the end of November and then we will give you two weeks of covid pay but we're moving you from the office. I was shunned. I was shunned from the office after I talked to the HR specialist. Starting October 1, they were gonna move everybody that is not vaccinated. They had to work remotely until they were given their depart date and my date was at the end of November if I am not mistaken. When November came, they said we'll give you two more weeks of Covid pay and after that, they came back because we were waiting to see what their lawyers were gonna say. She said I could apply for some remote jobs but these are jobs like investigator, stuff that I didn't have experience in. So I was most likely not going to get it. The office shunned me. The office manager, it was like they were hateful just because I didn't want to get vaccinated, basically. ”
While this account is not detailed enough to label it as workplace harassment based on religious beliefs under Title VII it is certainly a form of bullying and discrimination. Illegally firing someone because they refuse to violate their personal religious beliefs is also discrimination. That is interesting given the “woke, ultra-inclusive company and workplace” IRC claims to be. An organization that touts being all about diversity, equality, and inclusion sure doesn't mean it when it comes to an individual's choice to not be vaccinated because it violates their religious beliefs. Have a look at a list of quotes pulled directly from the IRC website and ask yourself if this sounds like the way they treated “Jade”.
“We deliver lasting impact by providing health care, helping children learn, and empowering individuals and communities to become self-reliant, always seeking to address the inequalities facing women and girls.”
“In order to attract and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce that represents the communities we serve, we will: 1) Examine how we can address rather than reflect the pervasive and, in some cases, deepening inequalities that exist around the world, especially those of race and gender. 2) Prioritize building diverse, inclusive and locally recruited leadership. 3) Refine staff skills through professional development and management training. 4) Ensure a positive, equitable and inclusive work environment that supports all our employees regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or national origin.”
“The IRC applies our mission of care and protection to those who fulfill it—our staff. We are committed to promoting their safety and wellness, and to providing them with an environment of respect in which to work.”
“The IRC values the diversity of our staff and recognizes that our work is best accomplished through the true collaboration of individuals from many cultures with a great variety of skills and perspectives. In support of this core value, the IRC maintains and enforces policies to foster relationships that respect the dignity and worth of each individual.”
“We uphold our policies in accordance with principles of international law and codes of good conduct, and we affirm that all IRC staff members are responsible for promoting fundamental human rights, social justice, human dignity and the equality of men, women and children. IRC staff must treat every person without distinction on the basis of his or her race, gender, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, marital status, sexual orientation, age or disability.”
“The IRC Way: The IRC and IRC workers must adhere to the values and principles outlined in IRC Way - Standards for Professional Conduct. These are Integrity, Service, and Accountability. In accordance with these values, the IRC operates and enforces policies on Beneficiary Protection from Exploitation and Abuse, Child Safeguarding, Anti Workplace Harassment, Fiscal Integrity, and Anti-Retaliation.
“Our DEI vision at IRC is as follows: Within the IRC, we actively work to end all forms of systemic discrimination and foster an inclusive working environment where everyone feels respected, heard, valued and supported. Our programs seek to reduce disparities in outcomes which are driven by systemic inequality.”
So, there you have it in their own words. IRC claims to be all about empowering individuals, ensuring a positive, equitable, and inclusive work environment that supports all our employees regardless of religion, providing a respectful environment, respects the dignity and worth of each individual, ending all forms of systemic discrimination, and building and environment where everyone feels respected, heard, valued and supported. Does that sound much like threatening, bullying, isolating, and ultimately firing someone because they stood up for their religious beliefs and refused to take an experimental vaccine? Didn't think so.
It is not like this is some private company that decided to do this on their own. It is an organization that is highly reliant on government grants and ultimately the American taxpayer to prop them up. In 2017, IRC got $711,075,998 in grants and 59.5% ($422,902,511) came from the Federal Government. If the same was true for 2020 (the last year currently reported) that means the IRC got $467,657,071 from Government agencies like the US Department of Health and Human Services and the State Department. While they may not be a federal agency they definitely operate on tax-payer money. “Jade” had it 100% correct when she said, “They say they are about equality, leadership, helping one another. Then why am I without a job? I think people should know. The IRC, a lot of people donate there. A lot of people. I got so many calls. People were like hey, how can we help? We got houses, we got clothes, I mean all kinds of stuff and I think people might step back from that if they knew.” There was more to the interview but one other highlight was when we asked “Jade” if she had filed for unemployment? She said, “I did but due to me not working much before this job it was only going to be like a hundred dollars a week so I don't get it.” Our board member asked if she quit the unemployment process after she realized it wasn't going to be beneficial? She said “Yes. Yes. The most that I've got from them because I do work part-time, was $24...It is so crazy. I can't find a full-time job just yet. It's been hard. It's been hard and that's why I wanted to get this story out because there's people out here struggling and we don't have to be. I love the job. I loved the job. I love charity. I love doing stuff for my community, you know. To be thrown out and basically shunned, they don't know how much it has hurt my family. How big of a burden I'm having to carry. You know what I mean?” We at Abilene Freedom League do know what she means. It is illegal to mandate vaccines in Texas, period. It has been struck down at the federal level. To take away anyone's legitimate religious exemption is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For someone to be hired during a pandemic, asked to work in conditions for months, then bullied to get a vaccine, and be fired when you refused is wrong. They knew she was a Christian when they hired her. We thank her for having the courage to tell her story and wish that the absolute best resolution possible comes out of all this. Written by Chris Turner Online Content Committee Chair Sources:
https://www.ftc.gov/site-information/no-fear-act/protections-against-discrimination https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-issues-executive-order-39-prohibiting-vaccine-mandates-in-texas https://gov.texas.gov/uploads/files/press/EO-GA-40_prohibiting_vaccine_mandates_legislative_action_IMAGE_10-11-2021.pdf https://www.rescue.org/sites/default/files/document/6197/ircfy2020form990.pdf https://cis.org/Rush/International-Rescue-Committee-Federally-Funded-Working-Undermine-Federal-Policy https://www.rescue.org/