A Houston-area hospital is being sued by 117 employees over its mandate that all staff must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by June 7 or they will be terminated. The hospital’s employees claim they are being used as “human guinea pigs.”
The civil suit was filed on Friday. It contends that the mandate violates the Nuremberg Code and U.S. statutes that permit Americans to legally refuse “unapproved” medical treatments. The suit also claimes that it violates both Texas labor and employment laws.
Lead plaintiff Jennifer Bridges told KHOU that the hospital “trying to force you to put something into your body that you’re not comfortable with to keep your job is just insane.”
Defendants include The Woodlands Hospital, The Methodist Hospital, and the Methodist Hospital System. The hospital claims that 99 percent of its employees are already vaccinated against the virus. They also assert that the plaintiffs are a small minority of their 26,000 employees and posit that it is “legal for healthcare institutions to mandate vaccines.” The institution has done so for years concerning the flu vaccine.
(Video Credit: KHOU 11)
Attorney Jared Woodfill stated that employees should be free to choose whether or not to take the vaccine without “force, deceit, fraud, threat, solicitation, or any type of binding or coercion.”
The complaint is 56 pages long. It argues that vaccines currently being distributed were authorized only as “emergency” measures and therefore are not fully “approved” vaccines.
The legal document allegedly quotes David Bernard, the CEO of Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital: “100% vaccination is more important than your individual freedom. Everyone [sic] of you is replaceable. If you don’t like what your [sic] doing you can leave and we will replace your spot.”
“For the first time in the history of the United States, an employer is forcing an employee to participate in an experimental vaccine trial as a condition for continued employment,” the lawsuit declares.
It goes on to allege that the defendant hospital “became the first major health care system in the country to force it [sic] employees to be injected with an experimental COVID-19 mRNA gene modification injection (‘experimental vaccine’) or be fired.”
“Methodist Hospital is forcing its employees to be human ‘guinea pigs’ as a condition for continued employment,” the lawsuit’s opening paragraph claims.
“[T]here is much the FDA does not know about these products even as it authorizes them for emergency use, including their effectiveness against infection, death, and transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that is allegedly the cause of the COVID disease,” the suit contends.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Friday stated in its updated technical assistance document: “Federal EEO laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, so long as employers comply with the reasonable accommodation provisions of the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other EEO considerations.”
The plaintiffs are also claiming that the hospital has “arbitrarily denied” claims submitted for religious or medical exemptions.
The case alleges wrongful discharge and a violation of the at-will employment doctrine’s public policy exception. It is seeking declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and appropriate attorneys’ fees.
Dr. Marc Boom, the president and CEO of Houston Methodist, said in a statement:
As of today, 99 percent of Houston Methodist’s 26,000 employees have met the requirements for the vaccination mandate. We are extremely proud of our employees for doing the right thing and protecting our patients from this deadly virus. As health care workers, it is our sacred obligation to do whatever we can to protect our patients, who are the most vulnerable in our community. It is our duty and our privilege.
It is unfortunate that the few remaining employees who refuse to get vaccinated and put our patients first are responding in this way. It is legal for health care institutions to mandate vaccines, as we have done with the flu vaccine since 2009. The COVID-19 vaccines have proven through rigorous trials to be very safe and very effective and are not experimental. More than 165 million people in the U.S. alone have received vaccines against COVID-19, and this has resulted in the lowest numbers of infections in our country and in the Houston region in more than a year.
Commenters on Twitter supported the employees’ lawsuit:
Way to go! All employees who are being forced need to file this against their employers!!!
— TamMet (@TamMetcalf) May 31, 2021
I knew this was eventually going to happen. All that stuff was propoganda with companies saying they could force employees. I always said holdouts would be able to explain that coercion in this method is not necessarily legally safe for these companies. I’m glad to see push back.
— Looking Into It (@echthegr8) May 29, 2021
Good, this needs to happen. An employer has no right over one’s bodily autonomy.
— Nathalie Philomena (@Mena_L0) May 30, 2021
Risk your lives for a jab that doesn’t stop getting or sharing Covid. Dumb.
— bev76 (@bev768) May 30, 2021
Smart people question free items and heavy pressure tactics. pic.twitter.com/gNwL6kCfp8
— united together (@unitedfornow) May 29, 2021
Amen to this! My PREGNANT sister due in July got the vaccine cause she works there. She refuses to listen to my advice. Please pray for her and her babies safety.
— Xena (@xenapatriot) May 29, 2021
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