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Judge rules in favor of Houston hospital demanding employee vaccination against Covid-19

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On Saturday, U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Hughes ruled against Jennifer Bridges and 116 of her Houston Methodist co-workers who sued to block the Covid-19 vaccination requirement. Houston Methodist Hospital moved to dismiss the case.

Bridges and colleagues said the Covid-19 vaccines used in the United States were “experimental and dangerous” and that it would be “illegal” to unsubscribe for refusing vaccination.

The privately run Houston Methodist Hospital countered, saying not only were Bridges’ claims false, but under Texas law, workers are only protected from termination if they refuse to commit an act. criminal which entails criminal sanctions.

Receiving a Covid-19 vaccine is not an illegal act and does not involve criminal sanctions.

The judge agreed to the Houston Methodist Hospital. Hughes warned Bridges’ analogy that his threat of termination in this case was like “forced medical experimentation during the Holocaust.”

Judge Hughes called the claim “reprehensible” and said Bridges was not being coerced.

“The Methodist is trying to do his business to save lives without giving them … COVID-19,” Hughes wrote in the waiver of the lawsuit.

“It is an option that is made to keep staff, patients and their families safer. Bridges are free to choose to accept or reject a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply have to work on another place “.

Jared Woodfill, attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said an appeal is expected.

“Employment should not be conditional on whether you agree to serve as a human guinea pig,” Woodfill said in a statement obtained by Affiliated to CNN KPRC.

“What is shocking is that many of my clients were on the front lines treating COVID-positive patients at Texas Methodist Hospital during the heyday of the pandemic. As a result, many of them contracted COVID-19. in gratitude for their service and sacrifice, the Methodist Hospital grants them a pink leaf and condemns them to bankruptcy. “

The hospital said “the plaintiffs falsely claimed that COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe.”

“With more than 300 million doses administered in the United States alone, vaccines have proven to be extremely safe, ”the Houston Methodist said.

“The number of positive cases and hospitalizations continues to decline across the country, proving that vaccines are working to keep our community protected.”

Bridges and the other 116 plaintiffs account for less than 0.5 percent of Houston’s Methodist employees, 24,947 of whom have already been vaccinated, Houston Methodist said.

Employers can legally offer incentives to employees to get vaccinated

The judge also recently denied plaintiffs’ request for a temporary restraining order to prevent Houston Methodist from suspending employees who refused to get vaccinated.

“The public’s interest in having a hospital capable of caring for patients during a pandemic far exceeds the protection of the vaccination preferences of 116 employees,” the judge wrote.

“Plaintiffs not only endanger their own health, but they endanger the health of doctors, nurses, support staff, patients and their families.”

In December, the Federal Commission for Equal Employment Opportunities said companies can legally enforce its employees re-enter the workplace and new contracts are vaccinated against Covid-19. The two exceptions that companies must allow are religious reasons and disability.

CNN’s Ben Tinker and Alison Kosik contributed to this report.

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