Capitol Correspondence - 06.22.21

Big Picture: Federal Court Sets Potential Precedent for Mandating COVID-19 Vaccines in the Workplace

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While the Reuters article shared below refers to a case centered around hospitals, we flag it to keep our members abreast of important legal discussions around COVID-19 vaccines. The case described could potentially be used to set the precedent for employers to require employees in non-hospital settings to be vaccinated against COVID-19.


“A U.S. federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by 117 workers at a Texas hospital over its requirement that they be vaccinated against COVID-19.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes upheld Houston Methodist Hospital’s policy mandating employees be vaccinated, in a ruling issued on Saturday.

Jennifer Bridges, a nurse and the lead plaintiff in the case, had argued that if she was fired for refusing a vaccine, it should be considered wrongful termination. She also said the vaccines are experimental and dangerous.

The judge did not find merit in either argument.

‘Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus,’ Hughes wrote in a five-page decision. ‘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.’

The judge said Texas law only protected employees from being fired for refusing to commit an illegal act and that the requirement is consistent with public policy. […]

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also said last month that U.S. companies can mandate that employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 with certain exceptions.

A lawyer for the workers who sued plans to appeal.”