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153 Workers Fired Or Quit Over Texas Hospital's Vax Mandate

By Alexis Shanes · Jun 23, 2021, 4:05 PM EDT

More than 150 Houston Methodist Hospital employees have quit or been terminated since a Texas federal judge threw out workers' challenge to the hospital's COVID-19 vaccine requirement earlier this month, a spokesperson for the hospital said Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Houston Methodist Hospital, which made headlines by requiring workers to get inoculated against COVID-19, told Law360 that 153 employees out of the hospital system's roughly 26,000-person staff had either resigned during a two-week suspension period or were fired Tuesday.

A group of hospital employees filed suit in May, claiming the hospital's mandate would force them to be "human guinea pigs" for the inoculation.

They also likened the shot to forced human medical experiments Nazis conducted during the Holocaust, saying the hospital's requirement violated the Nuremberg Code of 1947, the set of ethics principles developed at the end of WWII.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes rejected those arguments in a five-page order June 13, saying the plaintiffs were not being coerced, nor were they part of a human trial.

The court found that Texas law protects employees from wrongful firing only when they're asked to do something illegal, which was not the case for the hospital's vaccine requirement.

The hospital required all employees to get the shot by June 7. The day after that deadline, roughly 180 full- and part-time workers were suspended for two weeks without pay for not getting the vaccine or not completing the entire regimen, the hospital announced.

Twenty-seven employees had received one dose of the vaccine when they were suspended, the hospital said. It also announced hundreds of other workers had received deferrals and exemptions for medical and religious reasons.

Employers have largely eschewed vaccine mandates and incentives while encouraging employees to get the shot. Judge Hughes' ruling was the first in the nation to address such employer-instituted requirements.

--Additional reporting by Clark Mindock and Vin Gurrieri. Editing by Leah Bennett.

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