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The Right To Infect: Court Rules Against Antivax Hospital Workers

Can your employer require you to be vaccinated, in order to stay employed? One legal decision appears to support that a hospital can do so.

[Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images]

Like so many hospitals, Houston Methodist Hospital announced that employees would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves, co-workers, and patients. According to ABC13, nearly 25k employees complied. Almost 300 received exemptions, due to legitimate medical reasons, or religious reasons. Over 300 more received deferrals, to delay their vaccines, for pregnancy and other reasons.

However, 178 employees simply refused, and did not receive deferrals or exemptions, although it’s not clear whether they requested them and were ineligible, or just refused to comply with the vaccine requirement without attempting to get an exemption or deferral. At least one, Jennifer Bridges, said her reasoning was that the vaccine hasn’t yet received full FDA approval, only emergency use.

According to The Texan, over 100 employees staged a walkout, and filed a lawsuit. Bridges, leading the group, has said she plans to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court.

However, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes dismissed the case, calling it frivolous, and refusing to prevent the hospital from placing non-compliant employees on unpaid suspension or firing them.

CBS reported last week that a growing number of hospitals are mandating the vaccine, and that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has affirmed that requiring vaccines is within the scope of employers’ legal options, and that the CDC has even affirmed that local or state governments may require certain workers to be vaccinated.

Bridges has a GoFundMe where she claims that she’s just waiting for “proper research” on the vaccine and that her employers are just proving the “do not value their employees.” She indicates that she expects her ‘battle’ could become expensive.

It remains to be seen whether an appeal will be filed.



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