Current Edition

BMS settles lawsuit with two fired employees who refused COVID vaccines

Two Bristol Myers Squibb employees who were fired for refusing to be vaccinated and sued the company have agreed to settlements, court documents show.

Jeremy Beer and John Lott were two of four employees who filed suit in December of 2021 in federal court in the Southern District of New York, later to be joined by four other fired employees who filed in October of last year.

The case of one of the original four who sued, Dr. Carrie Kefalas, was dismissed on Tuesday.

The former employees claimed that BMS violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by rejecting their request for religious exemptions from the company’s COVID-19 vaccination policy.

Terms of the settlements were not disclosed. BMS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In September of 2021, BMS informed employees they needed to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1 or face dismissal unless they received a religious exemption to the policy.

The two former employees who settled were well-paid professionals. Lott, a biotechnologist with a Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins, was the associate director of strategy and submissions lead, patient safety and epidemiology, with an annual salary of $178,000. Beer was a senior manager for data integrity, with a salary of $146,000.

Kefalas was the head of clinical trial risk management for global drug development with a salary of $300,000 per year. According to the lawsuit, she requested to continue to work remotely and identified herself as a non-denominational “follower of Jesus Christ.”

BMS notified Kefalas that her request was denied because her beliefs were not “sincerely held,” according to the lawsuit. BMS also said that in previous internal company communications, Kefalas had questioned the safety of vaccinations without stating any religious objections.