St. Louis, MO (KROC-AM News) - A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit filed against Mayo Clinic by a group of former employees who were terminated after refusing to get COVID-19 shots.

The ruling was issued Friday by the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals and overturned a ruling by a federal judge in Minnesota. US District Court Judge Tunheim dismissed the cases in August of last year, but a three judge panel of the Appeals Court has unanimously decided that he erred in that decision.

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According to the federal court documents, the five Mayo Clinic employees alleged the Rochester-based healthcare provider failed to accommodate their religious beliefs under federal and state law. Their lawsuit claimed Mayo terminated them for refusing COVID-19 vaccinations or testing regimens.

8th US Circuit Court of Appeals
8th US Circuit Court of Appeals
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In its ruling reversing the Minnesota federal judge's decision, the Appeals Court indicated the District Court erred by emphasizing that many Christians did receive the vaccine. It also stated that legal precedent requires the court to consider a plaintiff’s overall claim and found the Minnesota judge based his ruling on only portions of the overall argument.

8th US Circuit Court of Appeals
8th US Circuit Court of Appeals
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The ruling remands the case back to the federal court for additional proceedings. Mayo Clinic has yet to indicate whether it plans to ask the full 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to review the case.

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Gallery Credit: T.J. Leverentz