More Than 40 BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Employees Who Refused COVID-19 Vaccine Join the Unemployed


BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BSBCT) had 41 fewer staff members as of Friday after those employees said no to the COVID-19 vaccine.

BSBCT spokeswoman Dalya Qualls told The Tennessee Star in an email Friday that 19 staff members left the company last month. She also said another 22 staff members left Thursday. Qualls did not specify how many BSBCT employees left voluntarily versus how many got fired.

Henry County resident Kesha Gulish, who worked in nurse-case management for BSBCT for five years, and who worked mostly from home, is one of the 41 employees who are now jobless.

“I feel as a Christian that God gave me autonomy over my body, and it is up to me to make decisions on what I do with my body,” Gulish said Friday.

“My body is a vessel for the Holy Spirit. I believe that and that I also have discernment. I pray about things.”

Gulish said BSBCT rejected her request for a religious exemption and fired her Wednesday.

Gulish said BSBCT’s forcing her and her colleagues out of their positions should alarm all Tennesseans.

“They are coming for everybody. It won’t stop with just ‘Let’s get a vaccine.’ The next one is ‘In order to stay employed you will have to have a booster every six months. Oh wait, we are going to do it every three months. But I don’t trust you to get it on your own. I am going to make you come, and we are going to administer it at your job,’” Gulish said.

“It doesn’t just stop at this. This is only just the beginning. We are standing up for our freedom and our rights to try to prevent this from happening to anyone else.”

Qualls said BSBCT staff offered accommodations — which she did not describe — to each employee.

“Our team evaluated each request according to the appropriate legal guidelines. We worked through an individual, interactive process with these employees, which included emails, phone calls and in some cases, multiple meetings. Each employee got to decide whether to accept the accommodation we offered. Numerous employees did accept the accommodation provided, while some chose to decline the accommodation and leave the company as of October 5,” Qualls said.

“While we respect our employees’ views and beliefs, the pandemic continues and we must take every available safety precaution when employees visit members — including some of our state’s most vulnerable — or providers, or go into the community, on our behalf.”

Gulish said this month’s special session of the Tennessee General Assembly did nothing to assist her. She also said she has contacted several state legislators as well as Governor Bill Lee.

“From where I work, they [BSBCT] tried to say we fall under the federal mandate,” Gulish said.

Gulish said she does not know if she will remain in the medical field.

“I am frustrated because I feel like our civil rights have been violated through them not accepting true accommodations. They haven’t really worked with us to be able to continue to work and to continue to provide for our family,” Gulish said.

“This vaccine mandate has effectively taken away my ability to provide insurance for my family, to contribute to my household as far as financial means go right now. And I was a good employee. I never had a bad review. Never had a bad write up. Never a complaint. But none of that mattered unless I got a vaccine.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “BlueCross BlueShield Building” by DanielPenfield. CC BY-SA 3.0.




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7 Thoughts to “More Than 40 BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Employees Who Refused COVID-19 Vaccine Join the Unemployed”

  1. Lesko Brandon

    Bill Lee is bought and paid for by Ford, The Tennessee Legislators are no better. Gut less.

  2. Jay

    TN legislature time to fish or cut bait.

  3. 83ragtop50

    BCBST is nothing more than a liberal monstrosity. Quite typical of bloated corporations when greed rules over employee rights.

  4. David Blackwell RN, BSN, CCM

    Unreal. I knew the system was corrupt, but this unbelievable.

  5. Kevin

    That’s hundreds of millions of dollars per year!

  6. Kevin

    The State of Tennessee’s leadership are a bunch of HYPOCRITES! They say they are going to challenge the Biden vaccine mandate, YET they continue to do hundreds of dollars per year of business with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee! THIS IS WRONG! Stop doing business with tyrants!

    To BC/BS, keep sending me mailers asking for my business, I need the fire starter, but I will never ever do business with you again! ESAD

    Every elected official that allows this to continue needs to be voted out of office! This includes: Bill Lee, Cameron Sexton, Randy McNally, Jack Johnson, William Lamberth, et, al

  7. rick

    People losing their jobs over the vaccine and their personal decision not to take the jab is really sad. It says some really bad things about where our country is.