A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by more than 100 employees of a Houston hospital system over its requirement that they be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Houston Methodist Hospital system last week suspended 178 workers without pay after they refused to get jabbed.
Of the group, 117 filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the requirement — and over their suspension and threatened termination.
US District Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston ruled Saturday that lead plaintiff Jennifer Bridges’ argument that the vaccines are “experimental and dangerous” is false and otherwise irrelevant.
The judge also found that her comparison of the inoculation requirement to the Nazis’ forced medical experimentation on concentration camp prisoners during the Holocaust to be “reprehensible.”
Hughes also ruled that making vaccinations a condition of employment was not coercion, as Bridges had claimed.
“Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else,” Hughes wrote.
“If a worker refuses an assignment, changed office, earlier start time, or other directive, he may be properly fired. Every employment includes limits on the worker’s behavior in exchange for remuneration. That is all part of the bargain,” the judge added.
Plaintiffs lawyer Jared Woodfill promised an appeal.
“All of my clients continue to be committed to fighting this unjust policy,” Woodfill said in a statement.
“What is shocking is that many of my clients were on the front line 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, Methodist Hospital awards them a pink slip and sentences them to bankruptcy.”
The hospital employees had a June 7 deadline to be vaccinated.
Houston Methodist Hospital CEO Marc Boom said that 24,947 staffers had complied with the requirement and that 27 of the 178 others had received the first of a two-dose vaccine and wouldn’t be axed if they got their second.
The rest are subject to termination.
Boom added that 285 other workers received medical or religious exemptions, and that 332 were deferred because they were pregnant or for some other reason.
With Post wires