Judge dismisses suit challenging Houston Methodist requirement for workers to get COVID vaccination
"Bridges says that she is being forced to be injected with a vaccine or be fired. This is not coercion," U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes wrote.
A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit waged by more than 100 Houston Methodist hospital system workers seeking to challenge the organization's requirement that workers get vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for continued employment.
"Bridges says that she is being forced to be injected with a vaccine or be fired. This is not coercion," U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes wrote. "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. Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else.
"If a worker refuses an assignment, changed office, earlier start time, or other directive, he may be properly fired. Every employment includes limits on the worker's behavior in exchange for his remuneration. That is all part of the bargain," Hughes wrote.
Houston Methodist allowed workers until June 7 to get vaccinated or face being ousted from employment. The hospital has said that almost 100% of its staff has followed the requirement, but those who did not have been suspended for 14 days. If they do not get vaccinated prior to the conclusion of the suspension, the hospital will "immediately initiate the employee termination process."
Attorney Jared Woodfill told The Hill that the plaintiffs plan to appeal.
"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."