A federal judge
has dismissed a lawsuit
filed by unvaccinated hospital
workers in Texas challenging their employer's mandatory coronavirus vaccine
policy, calling the claims in the suit "false" and "reprehensible."
In an unprecedented federal ruling on COVID-19 vaccine
mandates, U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes dismissed claims that workers at Houston
Methodist were being unlawfully "coerced" to get vaccinated as part of a medical experiment that the plaintiffs compared to Nazi
atrocities during World War II
“Equating the injection
requirement to medical experimentation in concentration camps is reprehensible,” Hughes said. “Nazi doctors conducted medical experiments on victims that caused pain, mutilation, permanent disability
, and, in many cases, death
After being told that they could either get vaccinated or find new jobs
, more than 100 workers signed on to a lawsuit against the hospital, which justified the vaccine requirement by citing patient safety concerns.
Unvaccinated employees who did not meet the hospital's deadline last week were placed on a two-week unpaid suspension, and those who have not been vaccinated by June 21 will be terminated, according to the hospital.
The employees argued that their termination would violate state law and amounted to coercion, and they expressed concerns about the vaccine's safety, given that it had only been approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration, and they incorrectly labeled it as an experimental human trial
as a result.
“The hospital’s employees are not participants in a human trial,” Hughes responded, explaining that the hospital had not applied to test the COVID-19 vaccines
on its employees.
In terms of their termination being illegal, Hughes stated that Texas law only protects employees from being fired for refusing to commit a crime
, and that the employees are not being forced to get vaccinated and retain their right to refuse.
“This is not coercion,” the judge responded, addressing Jennifer Bridges, the nurse
at the heart of the lawsuit. “Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else.”
Bridges stated that the judge's decision does not surprise her and that she intends to appeal it.
“We knew this was going to be a huge fight, and we are prepared to fight it,” she told USA Today. “Methodist is a very large company, and they are pretty well protected in a lot of areas; we knew this was going to be a huge fight, and we are prepared to fight it.
Marc Boom, the hospital's president
, praised his staff for getting vaccinated and expressed his desire to put the lawsuit behind them.
“All of our employees have now met the requirements of the vaccine policy, and I couldn’t be prouder of them,” he said in a statement Saturday, adding that “they have fulfilled their sacred obligation as health care
workers, and we couldn’t ask for a more dedicated, caring, and talented team.”