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A federal judge in Texas has thrown out a lawsuit filed against Houston Methodist Hospital for mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for healthcare workers as a condition of employment.
The dismissal of the suit is being appealed, but the action sends a shot across the bow to healthcare workers and others who plan to challenge mandated COVID-19 vaccination programs in hospitals.
The hospital policy called for all employees to be vaccinated by June 7, 2021, with the lawsuit being filed a little more than a week before that deadline. Filed by 117 unvaccinated employees on May 28, 2021, the lawsuit claims Houston Methodist is “forcing an employee to participate in an experimental vaccine trial as a condition for continued employment.”
Arguing that the hospital employees were not allowed to refuse an experimental product, the suit compares the mandated immunization of American healthcare workers for COVID-19 to the medical experiments the Nazis conducted on unwilling volunteers. These atrocities led to the Nuremberg Code on Permissible Medical Experiments, which states “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential,” the lawsuit states.
In dismissing the case, Lynn Hughes, a federal judge for the Southern District of Texas, demolished the experimental vaccine claim and took the plaintiffs to task for bringing up the Holocaust to support their argument.
“The hospital’s employees are not participants in a human trial,” the dismissal ruling states.1 “…The hospital has not applied to test the COVID-19 vaccines on its employees. The Nuremburg Code does not apply because Methodist is a private employee and not a government. Equating the injection requirements to medical experimentation in a concentration camp is reprehensible.”
The ruling clarifies that Texas law only protects employees from refusing to commit an act carrying criminal penalties to the worker.
“Receiving COVID-19 vaccination is not an illegal act and it carries no criminal penalties,” the dismissal states. “[Plaintiffs are] are refusing to accept inoculation that in the hospital's judgment will make it safer for their workers and the patients in Methodist’s care.”
Judge Hughes also cited the recent position taken by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which said employers can require COVID-19 vaccination of employees with reasonable accommodations for exemptions and staying within existing anti-discrimination laws.
For more on this story, see the next issue of Hospital Employee Health.