Last June 12, a Texas federal District Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by hospital employees, terminated for defying a mandatory employee-vaccination policy. The Court upheld the compulsory vaccination policy as lawful, whilst recognizing the right of the complainants to reject or accept a COVID-19 vaccination but not without suffering the consequences if mandated as an employment requirement.
The District Court ruled that in every place of employment, there are limits to the extent of allowed employee behavior, especially if it will affect the service they provide in exchange for compensation. In the case of the hospital employees who refused to be vaccinated, it is proper for them to find work somewhere else, where vaccination is not deemed by employers as important to the performance of services.
The case decision sets a precedent, being the first court ruling that determines the capability of employers to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory among employees. While the dismissed employees claim that the mandatory vaccination policy violates the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act FDCA), the ruling of the Texas District Court challenged the argument citing the FCDA.
The court’s decision also cited the Equal Employment Opportunity guidance, which declares that private employers can require their employees to be vaccinated. The guidance obligates employers to furnish reasonable arrangements for employees who have legitimate religious reasons or medical conditions that bar them from getting vaccinated. .
Short Background on the Filed Lawsuit
The lawsuit was initiated by 117 employees of the Houston Methodist Hospital after the institution imposed preliminary punishments before terminating them for violating the hospital’s mandatory vaccination policy. Those who refused to be vaccinated until the deadline will be suspended for two weeks without pay to let them reconsider the consequences of not abiding with the hospital’s vaccination policy. Since the employees still refused to receive vaccination despite the two-week suspension, the complainants were terminated in accordance with the stipulations set by the vaccination policy.
The plaintiffs cited the following arguments in the filing of their lawsuit:
1. The employees who were terminated by the policy were wrongfully terminated.
2. The vaccine mandate violated the Texas’ public policy and;
It also violated the federal FDCA concerning human subjects, which referenced the Nuremberg Code.
3. The District Court also rejected the third argument concerning the Nuremberg Code as it does not apply to private employers. Furthermore, they explained that the coronavirus vaccination mandate is not the same as the human medical experimentation forced on the victims of the Nazi’s Holocaust movement.
The plaintiffs filed an appeal to rebut the District Court’s dismissal of their lawsuit, at the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit last June 14.