Around 50 health care employees are suing a Detroit hospital system over its requirement for all workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, arguing that the mandate unconstitutionally infringes on a person’s bodily autonomy.
The complaint, filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, said that the vaccine mandate from the Henry Ford Health System, which is scheduled to officially take effect Friday, violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of “personal autonomy and bodily integrity.”
The lawyers representing the doctors, nurses and other Henry Ford employees who filed the lawsuit cited unverified reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to argue that as of Aug. 20, more than 13,000 people in the U.S. who were vaccinated against COVID-19 have died, with more than 30,000 reporting permanent disabilities and life-threatening events.
The CDC states in a disclaimer on the VAERS website that vaccine providers “are encouraged to report any clinically significant health problem following vaccination to VAERS, whether or not they believe the vaccine was the cause.”
Nevertheless, the plaintiffs argued that Henry Ford’s vaccine mandate subjects employees “to a significant likelihood of bodily harm.”
The employees, represented by VonAllmen & Associates and Renz Law, also on Monday filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent the hospital system from enforcing the mandate until the legal complaint has been resolved.
Henry Ford responded to the lawsuit by defending its vaccine requirement, saying in a statement shared with The Hill, “We remain confident that vaccination is the most powerful tool we all have against the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Beyond that, we cannot comment on pending litigation,” the hospital system added.
When announcing the mandate in June, Henry Ford President and CEO Wright Lassiter III said, “As a leader and trusted voice in our communities, our patients and members depend on us to create a safe, healthy environment.”
“We owe that same promise to our team members. Safety and infection prevention are everyone’s responsibility,” he added.
The mandate applies to all hospital system team members, students, volunteers and contractors, according to the hospital’s June announcement.
Several states, local governments and hospitals across the country have announced COVID-19 vaccine requirements for health workers, especially after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for individuals 16 and older.
As of Tuesday, nearly 56 percent of Michigan’s total population has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, with roughly 51 percent fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.