This week, sixty-two former workers at Houston Methodist hospital, the Methodist healthcare system, and Houston Methodist-The Woodlands sued their former employer after they were terminated for failing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which administrators required for their employees.
In April, the two hospitals issued a policy which required all employees receive all mandatory vaccines, including two shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, by June 9th or face termination.
Once this date had passed, CEO Dr. Marc Boom sent an email to employees which informed them, “I wish the number could be zero, but unfortunately, a small number of individuals have decided to not put their patients first.”
Attorney Jared Woodfill filed the lawsuit in the Montgomery County District Court after a similar suit he filed against the hospital’s vaccine requirement was rejected, Just the News notes.
Woodfill told the outlet that the former workers he is representing “faithfully and fearlessly were on the frontlines during the height of the pandemic fighting the coronavirus. And many of them contracted Covid knowing the risk they were taking caring for their patients. As a thank you, Methodist awarded them a pink slip when they refused to participate in a vaccine trial.”
This time around, he is arguing that the state’s employment-at-will doctrine does not apply to the hospital having required workers to take the vaccine. The suit asserts that because the vaccine is still under emergency use authorization, federal law requires that its use be entirely voluntary, so it was actually illegal to coerce workers into taking it by threatening with termination if they refused.
While the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that employees could not be fired for refusing to commit a legal act or inquiring into the legality of an act they were required to do, Governor Greg Abbot (R) has also issued an executive order requiring an exemption to the employment-at-will doctrine over emergency use authorization drugs.
The lawsuit also calls out CEO Boom’s “passive aggressive swipe” at his former employees’ refusal to take the vaccine.
For his part, Boom says he is “not surprised” by the lawsuit.
“It just seems to completely rehash the other lawsuit, which was very clearly and definitively overturned and dismissed by Judge Hughes,” he said. “We would expect the same thing in this case.”
Just the News notes that since Houston Methodist issued their requirement for employees to be vaccinated, several other area hospitals followed suit: Baylor College of Medicine, Memorial Hermann, Texas Children’s Hospital, and St. Luke’s Medical Center.
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