Fallon v. Mercy Catholic Medical Center, No. 16-3573 (3d Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Fallon was terminated by his employer, Mercy Catholic Medical Center, because he refused to be inoculated against flu. He opposed the vaccine because he believed that it might do more harm than good. Mercy required its employees to receive the vaccine unless they qualified for a medical or religious exemption. Fallon sought the exemption on religious grounds. Mercy ruled that he did not qualify and terminated him when he continued to refuse the vaccine. Fallon sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, arguing that his termination constituted religious discrimination. The district court dismissed his case with prejudice because his beliefs, while sincere and strongly held, were not religious in nature. The court considered the full text of an essay that was partially quoted in Fallon’s complaint but not submitted in full until Mercy attached it to a reply brief with its motion to dismiss. The Third Circuit affirmed. Fallon’s beliefs do not occupy a place in his life similar to that occupied by a more traditional faith. His objection to vaccination is therefore not religious and not protected by Title VII. The court rejected Fallon’s argument that only the portions of the essay, which were quoted in the complaint, should have been considered.