A United States federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by 117 workers at a Texas hospital over its requirement that they be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Reuters.
In the ruling, District Judge Lynn Hughes upheld Houston Methodist Hospital's policy mandating that employees be vaccinated.
Lead plaintiff nurse Jennifer Bridges had argued that if she were fired for refusing a vaccine, it should be considered wrongful termination. She also called the vaccines experimental and dangerous, but the judge found no merit in either argument.
“Methodist is trying to do its business of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus,” Hughes said. “It is a choice made to keep staff, patients and their families safer. Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse the vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else.”
The judge said Texas law protected employees from being fired only for refusing to commit an illegal act and that the requirement was consistent with public policy.
Three vaccines have received emergency authorisation in the United States, although they have not received full approval by the US Food and Drug Administration.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also said last month that companies could mandate that employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 with certain exceptions.
Jared Woodfill, a lawyer for the workers who sued, plans to appeal. “This legal battle has only just begun,” he said. "Employment should not be conditioned upon whether you will agree to serve as a human guinea pig."
In a statement, Houston Methodist called the lawsuit frivolous and said it was pleased with the judge's decision. It noted that 24,947 hospital employees had met the vaccine requirements.
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