By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media
A judge in the Southern District of Texas on Saturday dismissed a lawsuit brought by more than 100 employees against Houston Methodist Hospital over the facility’s policy mandating all employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment.
In their suit, plaintiffs alleged the COVID-19 vaccine is dangerous, but Judge Lynn N. Hughes called this claim “false” and “irrelevant.” Hughes went on to write that the plaintiffs “misconstrued” federal policy and “misrepresented the facts” about Houston Methodist’s vaccine program. The judge also underscored plaintiffs have not been coerced.
“Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus. It is a choice made to keep staff, patients, and their families safer,” Hughes wrote. “Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else.”
In dueling statements released concurrently to a Houston TV station, an attorney for the plaintiffs said his clients plan to appeal this decision while Houston Methodist applauded the decision and indicated they are ready to “put this behind us.”
In March, Houston Methodist leadership began taking the COVID-19 vaccine. The next month, the health system announced all employees would need to take the vaccine by June 7. Although many employees had taken at least one vaccine dose or planned to, some staff balked, leading to litigation.
Vaccine mandates have not been widespread so far, but it appears the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission supports employers who choose to issue such rules.