District Judge Lynn Hughes ruled on Saturday that Houston Methodist Hospital’s vaccination mandate did not violate the rights of the 117 workers who filed the suit.
In his ruling, Hughes said the plaintiffs’ argument that the vaccines are “experimental and dangerous” is “false” and “also irrelevant,” explaining that they 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 that should Jennifer Bridges, a nurse and lead plaintiff in the case, get fired, she wouldn’t have been “wrongfully terminated” because “Texas law only protects employees from being terminated for refusing to commit an act carrying criminal penalties to the work.”
In late March, hospital executives announced that all staff must be vaccinated by June 7, or they may face termination. Approximately 99% of the medical facility's 26,000 employees have since complied with the directive. The hospital has suspended 178 employees without pay over their refusal to get the vaccine.
A memo from the hospital system’s CEO, Marc Boom, said that 27 of the suspended employees had received their first dose and will be able to keep their jobs if they get the second dose, according to Fox 4 Dallas. He added that 285 employees received medical or religious exemptions, while 332 staffers had their vaccines deferred because they were pregnant or had another reason.
“We can now put this behind us and continue our focus on unparalleled safety, quality, service and innovation," Boom said in a statement following the judge's decision. "All our employees have now met the requirements of the vaccine policy and I couldn’t be prouder of them. Our employees and physicians made their decisions for our patients, who are always at the center of everything we do. They have fulfilled their sacred obligation as health care workers, and we couldn’t ask for a more dedicated, caring and talented team.”
In a separate statement, the hospital referred to the lawsuit as "frivolous."
In his decision, Hughes noted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled last month that “employers can require employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 subject to reasonable accommodations.”
Part of the plaintiff's supposed legal justification behind the suit is the alleged violation of the Nuremberg Code ethics standard, a provision established after World War II that strictly forbids human testing without consent.
The judge described their argument as a comparison to “medical experimentation in concentration camps," which she claimed was "reprehensible."
Jared Woodfill, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, said an appeal is forthcoming.
"All of my clients continue to be committed to fighting this unjust policy," Woodfill said in a statement, according to Fox News. "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."
Woodfill did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner's request for comment.
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Original Author: Mike Brest