The Washington Appeals Court has upheld a lower court decision to toss out a lawsuit against Confluence Health by 92 former employees.

The workers claim they were wrongly fired for not getting vaccinated for COVID-19 in 2021 and had their religious rights violated when they were not granted exemptions,

The lawsuit was filed in Douglas County Superior Court by plaintiff's attorney and former East Wenatchee mayor Steve Lacy in April of 2022. It was dismissed in March of last year by Judge Brian Huber.

A three-judge panel from the Appeals Court Division III in Spokane agreed with Huber in an opinion released a Thursday.

In the decision, Judge Robert Lawrence-Berrey acknowledged Governor Jay Inslee's COVID-10 vaccination proclamation made it a crime to work in a healthcare setting without being vaccinated.

"In essence, the former employees argue that Confluence violated clear public policy by terminating them rather than allowing them to engage in activity made criminal by the proclamation," wrote Lawrence-Berrey. "The argument is nonsensical, and we reject it on its face."

Lacy filed a second lawsuit in April of last year, making much the same claim, that Confluence failed to uphold employees’ religious/medical exemptions.

That case is still active in Douglas County, although it now has fewer litigants. Huber dismissed seven of the plaintiffs in January, saying they never asked for a religious exemption from the vaccine requirement.

Huber also denied a motion from Confluence Health to have the entire lawsuit thrown out.

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Gallery Credit: Aly

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