Employers can require vaccinations, even in Texas. A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit by some employees of a hospital in Houston fighting their suspension over refusing to be vaccinated.
In early June, the Houston Methodist Hospital system suspended 178 of its 25,000 employees without pay after the June 7, 2021, deadline for taking the COVID-19 vaccine passed. The policy wasn’t a surprise; it was announced in February when vaccinations became available to all health care workers.
The 117 suspended employees who chose to involve themselves in the lawsuit had all elected to not register a medical or religious exemption to the vaccine, both of which the hospital would have honored.
The lead plaintiff, Jennifer Bridges, compared the vaccination requirement to the Nazis forcing medical experimentation on concentration camp prisoners. She also alleged that COVID-19 are “experimental and dangerous,” which is unsupported by the 2.4 billion doses administered worldwide.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes in Houston wasn’t impressed by the lawsuit. She called Bridges’ claims false, irrelevant, and “reprehensible” from her bench. Her dismissal of the lawsuit included a ruling that businesses requiring vaccination are not engaging in coercion. According to her, employers can require vaccinations and dissenters can choose to work elsewhere.
“Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else. 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,” Hughes pronounced.
According to Jared Woodfill, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, there will be an appeal.
“All of my clients continue to be committed to fighting this unjust policy,” Woodfill said in a statement. He also cites that many of his clients have already had COVID-19, which research has not yet correlated with future immunity.
Agencies of any sort being allowed to require vaccination is not new. Schools and universities have required vaccinations since vaccines were invented, as has the U.S. military, religious mission groups, and many other industries.