Judge dismisses staff lawsuit over Houston Methodist vaccine mandate
A federal judge in Texas has dismissed a lawsuit from more than 100 employees of the Houston Methodist hospital system over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes said the employees weren’t illegally being forced to get vaccinated in order to keep their jobs.
The decision is a victory for Houston Methodist, which was the first hospital system in the U.S. to mandate its employees get vaccinated, though plaintiffs plan to appeal the ruling.
Houston Methodist President and CEO Marc Boom said in a statement, “We can now put this behind us and continue our focus on unparalleled safety, quality, service and innovation.”
“Our employees and physicians made their decisions for our patients, who are always at the center of everything we do,” Boom said. “They have fulfilled their sacred obligation as health care workers, and we couldn’t ask for a more dedicated, caring and talented team.”
Houston Methodist gave its employees until June 7 to get vaccinated for COVID-19 or face termination.
Earlier this week, the hospital said that nearly 100 percent of its staff had complied with the mandate, but those who hadn’t were suspended for 14 days. If they were not vaccinated before their suspension ended, the hospital said it would “immediately initiate the employee termination process.”
The 117 plaintiffs, led by Jennifer Bridges, a nurse, accused the hospital of “forcing its employees to be human ‘guinea pigs’ as a condition for continued employment.”
The suit further alleged that the vaccines were experimental and dangerous and that being forced to get vaccinated violated federal law.
In a five-page order on Saturday, Hughes largely debunked the plaintiff’s arguments. But the judge specifically blasted the plaintiffs for equating the vaccine mandate to forced experimentation during the Holocaust.
“Equating the injection requirement to medical experimentation in concentration camps is reprehensible,” Hughes wrote. “Nazi doctors conducted medical experiments on victims that caused pain, mutilation, permanent disability, and in many cases, death.”
Jared Woodfill, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told The Hill that his clients plan to appeal to the ruling and will be seeking similar judgement from the Texas Supreme Court in a similar case.
“This is just one battle in a larger war to protect the rights of employees to be free from being forced to participate in a vaccine trial as a condition for employment,” Woodfill said. “Ultimately, I believe Methodist Hospital will be held accountable for their conduct.”