Judge challenges Houston hospital workers’ vaccine requirements – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by employees of a Houston hospital system over its requirement that all its staff be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Houston Methodist Hospital System suspended 178 employees without pay last week for refusing to be vaccinated. Of these, 117 have filed a lawsuit to overturn the requirement and their suspension and threat of dismissal.
In a scathing ruling on Saturday, US District Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston ruled that main complainant Jennifer Bridges’ claim that vaccines are “experimental and dangerous” was false and otherwise irrelevant. He also found that she compared the vaccination requirement to the Nazis’ forced medical experimentation on concentration camp captives during the Holocaust as “reprehensible”.
Hughes also ruled that making vaccinations a condition of employment was not coercion, as Bridges argued.
“Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply have to work elsewhere. If a worker declines an assignment, changes offices, an earlier start time, or some other directive, they may be properly terminated. Every job includes limits on the behavior of the worker in exchange for pay. It’s all part of the deal, ”concluded Hughes.
Jared Woodfill, a Houston attorney representing Bridges and the other clients, has promised an appeal.
“All of my clients continue to be committed to fighting this unfair policy,” Woodfill said in a statement. “What’s shocking is that many of my clients were on the front lines treating COVID-positive patients at Texas Methodist Hospital during the height of the pandemic. As a result, many of them contracted COVID-19. As a thank you for their service and sacrifice, the Methodist Hospital gives them a pink note and condemns them to bankruptcy. “
Employees had a deadline of June 7 to complete their vaccination.
In a Tuesday memo, hospital system CEO Marc Boom said 24,947 employees had complied with the vaccination requirement and that 27 of the remaining 178 had received the first of a two-dose vaccine and did not would not be fired if they received their second. The rest is subject to termination.
He also wrote that another 285 employees were given medical or religious exemptions, and 332 were deferred because they were pregnant or for some other reason.