Vaccine Mandate Backlash Cost’s BlueCross BlueShield Big Bucks

Ken Wolter /
Ken Wolter /

So, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST) thinks playing God with people’s jobs is perfectly okay. Why? A loyal employee, Tanja Benton, dared to stand by her religious beliefs and refused the COVID-19 vaccine. And now, she’s walking away with a hefty settlement of nearly $700,000. That’s right, folks. Sometimes, standing up for what you believe in pays off—literally.

In August 2021, BCBST thought it was a genius move to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all its employees. Benton, however, wasn’t having it. She promptly submitted a religious exemption, stating that her faith couldn’t reconcile with the vaccine derived from aborted fetus cell lines. By November, they had booted her out the door. Excellent work, BCBST. Real classy.

Let’s break it down: Benton had been with BCBST for over 16 years. Her role as a biostatistical research scientist was practically tailor-made for remote work. We’re talking about someone who barely met clients face-to-face—25 hours a year. Yet, despite working remotely without issues for over a year and a half during the pandemic, BCBST still decided she had to go.

Benton’s lawsuit didn’t just spotlight her religious beliefs. It laid out the cold, hard facts about her job. She was already working from home, conducting all meetings virtually, and there wasn’t a single peep of client complaints about the lack of in-person interaction. Not one. But did BCBST care? Of course not. They were too busy playing enforcers of their vaccine mandate.

And let’s not forget, Benton wasn’t alone. She was part of a wave of employees on the chopping block for sticking to their beliefs. Out of 900 roles targeted by this mandate, 41 employees said no to the vaccine and faced the axe. Talk about draconian.

In a twist of poetic justice, Benton wasn’t the only one fighting back. A class-action lawsuit has been launched against BCBST, accusing them of illegal discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These plaintiffs argue they were forced to choose between their faith and their jobs—a choice no one should have to make in a supposedly free country.

Let’s be honest here. This isn’t just about Benton or the settlement she rightfully won. It’s about a corporation overstepping its bounds and trampling on individual rights. It’s about people being forced to compromise their beliefs or face unemployment. What happened to America, where freedom of religion was cherished?

BCBST needs to examine its practices and ask if this is the kind of legacy it wants. If you ask me, they just got a $700,000 reminder that trampling on people’s rights can come with a hefty price tag. So, here’s to Tanja Benton—a woman who stood up, fought back, and won. May her victory be a lesson to all those corporate overlords out there: you mess with people’s beliefs at your peril.