Judge Guts Religious Bias Suit Over Tyson's Vax Mandate

 

By Rachel Stone, Law360

June 15, 2022

 

A Tennessee federal court shut down most of a lawsuit accusing Tyson Foods of violating workers' religious rights by requiring COVID-19 vaccinations, rejecting the argument that Tyson acted as an arm...

 

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https://www.law360.com/employment-authority/articles/1503094/judge-guts-religious-bias-suit-over-tyson-s-vax-mandate

 

 

Johnson v. Tyson Foods, Inc.

 

Casetext.com

Jun 15, 2022

 

Opinion

 

21-cv-01161-STA-jay

 

06-15-2022

 

ROBBIE JOHNSON, Plaintiff, v. TYSON FOODS, INC. and RHONDA GOOCH, Defendants.

 

S. THOMAS ANDERSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 

ORDER PARITALLY GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AND PARTIALLY DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS

 

S. THOMAS ANDERSON, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 

Plaintiff Robbie Johnson filed this action in the Dyer County Chancery Court against her employer Tyson Foods, Inc. and a human resources manager at the company Rhonda Gooch. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated her rights under the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution; the Tennessee Constitution, Article I, Section 3; the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb et seq.; the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12010 et seq.; the Nuremberg Code; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.; the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”), 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3; the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”), Tenn. Code Ann. § 4-21-101 et seq.; the Tennessee Disability Act (“TDA”), Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-50-103 et seq.; and Tenn. Code Ann. § 14-1-101 et seq., by requiring her to be vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine prior to November 1, 2021, or else go on unpaid leave without the assurance of ever reclaiming her job. Plaintiff also alleges a state common law claim of assault. (Amd. Cmplt., No. 18.) Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief that Tyson Foods violated the THRA, TDA, and state tort law, and injunctive relief enjoining Tyson Foods from discriminating against employees by refusing to grant religious or health accommodations to its COVID-19 vaccine mandate as well as damages.

 

Defendant Tyson Foods removed the action on October 20, 2021, asserting that this Court has jurisdiction over the matter under diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1332 and federal officer jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1). (ECF No. 1.) On November 3, 2021, the Court denied Plaintiff's motion to remand finding that the Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1). (ECF No. 17.) Plaintiff filed an amended complaint on November 18, 2021. (ECF No. 18.)

 

Defendants have now filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint. (ECF No. 24.) Plaintiff has responded to the motion (ECF No. 29), and Defendants have filed a reply to the response. (ECF No. 34.) For the reasons set forth below, the motion is PARTIALLY GRANTED and PARTIALLY DENIED.

 

Standard of Review ...

 

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