Lawsuit over Methodist Hospital vaccination mandate tossed

That was quick.

A federal judge has tossed a lawsuit against Houston Methodist over its policy to terminate workers who refuse to get the COVID vaccine, calling it “reprehensible” that plaintiffs compared the requirement to those made under Nazi Germany.

In the lawsuit on behalf of 117 Houston Methodist employees, lawyers likened the vaccine requirement to the Nuremberg Code, a set of medical ethics standards created at the end of World War II following medical experiments by the Nazis on German citizens.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes heavily criticized the comparison in a decision Saturday.

“Equating the injection requirement to medical experimentation in concentration camps is reprehensible,” Hughes said. “Nazi doctors conducted medical experiments on victims that caused pain, mutilation, permanent disability, and in many cases, death.”

Houston Methodist is one of the first hospitals in the nation to require employees to be vaccinated. The hospital system allows employees to opt out of the vaccine requirement if they provide a medical or religious exemption.


Jennifer Bridges, a Houston Methodist Baytown nurse who originally circulated a petition in April asking the hospital’s executives to reconsider the policy, said the plaintiffs plan to appeal.

“This will go all the way,” Bridges said. “This is only the beginning.”

Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials issued guidance on Thursday outlining new COVID-19 precautions and procedures to prevent the spread of the virus in health care workplaces. Under the new rule, health care employers must provide paid time off for workers to receive COVID-19 vaccinations and recover from the side effects. Federal regulators in May issued guidance allowing employers to require proof of vaccination as a condition of employment.

Hughes wrote in the dismissal order that the vaccinate mandate “was not coercion.”

“Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus,” the judge wrote. “It is a choice made to keep staff, patients and their families safer.”

He also denied a request for a temporary restraining order to block the hospital from suspending the 178 employees who have not received a shot.

See here for some background – the policy was announced in late April, the lawsuit was filed shortly afterwards. As of the last day before the suspensions, all but 178 employees out of 25,000 had been vaccinated, and 27 of those 171 had since received a first shot. The nurse who has acted as the spokesperson for the holdout employees has insisted this isn’t about vaccine skepticism but about not wanting to rush things and so on, but as the Chron editorial board noted over the weekend, her rhetoric has veered more into conspiracy theory land as this has progressed. Plus, there’s the whole “hiring Jared Woodfill as their attorney” thing, which is something you never do if you want to be taken seriously. Anyway, my guess is that they will get no joy from the appeals courts, who I suspect will be more pro-employer than pro-not-getting-vaccinated, but we’ll see. The Press has more.

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5 Responses to Lawsuit over Methodist Hospital vaccination mandate tossed

  1. mollusk says:

    Since Texas is a “right to work” (translation: right to fire) state, any other result would have been a surprise. It’s not addressed in the opinion, but TWC would also likely classify these as terminations for cause – in this case, failing to follow an employer’s lawful directive.

    Best line out of the opinion was Judge Hughes’ statement that the complaint read like a press release.

  2. Mainstream says:

    For anyone not plugged in, Judge Hughes was a Reagan appointee. He served as a state district judge prior to appointment.

  3. Jason Hochman says:

    Supporting Methodist is giving aid and comfort to Trump and the Republicans. We have the opportunity to snap the spine of the Republican party. It is reeling since its golden hope, Trump, went down in flames and started a civil war. Trump is still one of the presidents, since he never did concede, or give a farewell speech, or even attend the inauguration. Now, he’s poised for a comeback thanks to those who don’t stand up for the workers.

    Just like I told the Foodarama executives, the motto of the pandemic is “we’re all in this together.” Private ownership is gauche and passe. You can’t treat employees like chattel.

    I find it interesting that front line workers, just last year, they were heroes, are gleefully being told by Methodist to get it or get out. That’s gratitude for ya. I also find it interesting that front line workers and nurses want to wait before getting the vaccine. What do they know?

    Of course the Chronicle is good for labeling everything “conspiracy theory.” Just like that lab leak conspiracy, and all the other lies that have emerged. The Chronicle tells us there is a better chance that you will be struck by lightning than go into anaphylactic shock from the vaccine. Why didn’t they tell us that your odds of dying from Covid 19 are even lower than that?

    There are a number of people who had heart attacks and cardiac arrest related to the vaccines, look on VAERS, and there are many saying that VAERS is under reporting, and up to 25,000 deaths were related to the vaccines. Also, consider that Moderna has never had a big blockbuster and was in need of money. J&J needs money to pay off all of the people it killed with talcum powder. You should do your own research, and not believe the Chronicle as being the source of The Science.

    I’ve had run ins with Methodist. Their security people always run off the homeless minorities. One day, one of their security goons started questioning me. She was asking me what am I doing sitting out there on their veranda, and she said that she had “never seen me before.” And I said, “really? I am here everyday and you have even spoken to me.” Then she goes, “I see a lot of people, I can’t remember everyone.” and I said, “How come you said you’ve never seen me before, and acted like that was a concern? Now you admit you can’t remember everyone.” Of course this nitwit had no answer to that one. I kept warning the Methodist security that if they didn’t quit hassling the homeless and getting mouthy with me, that I would give them an adverse event. They didn’t listen. So, I dobbed them in to CPRIT. They get funding from CPRIT, and they weren’t following the guidelines. Recipients are required to prohibit tobacco use from all of their facilities, even outdoors. I reported that people were out there smoking, and a few weeks later, I saw a guy putting out the required signage and taking digital photos to email to the state. There are other noncompliances at Methodist that I know of, and, if they don’t calm down, I may dob them in as well. When you live off state and federal money, you aren’t a private entity. Federal money is not the yellow brick road to wealth, it has many strings attached. You had better tie up the loose ends of those strings.

  4. Pingback: Methodist anti-vaxxers appeal lawsuit dismissal – Off the Kuff

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