153 Houston hospital workers fired, resign over vaccine rule

HOUSTON — More than 150 employees of a Houston hospital system resigned or were fired Tuesday for failing to comply with a COVID-19 requirement for workers.

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Patti Muck, a spokesperson for the Houston Methodist system, said 153 employees either resigned in the two-week suspension period or were fired, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The deadline to show proof of vaccination was Monday, the newspaper reported.

The system, which employs 24,947 employees, required workers to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by June 7. The 178 who did not comply were suspended without pay for two weeks, KTRK reported.

The hospital system includes a medical center and six community hospitals.

>> Houston hospital suspends 178 over COVID-19 vaccine requirement

In the two weeks leading up to the firings, hospital employees staged protests and filed a lawsuit against the hospital, claiming the policy, which was announced in April, violated their rights, the Chronicle reported.

On June 12, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, filed by 117 staffers. U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes ruled that the employees were not illegally being forced to get vaccinated in order to keep their jobs, The Hill reported.

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

>> Judge dismisses lawsuit from Houston hospital employees over vaccine

“We can now put this behind us and continue our focus on unparalleled safety, quality, service and innovation,” hospital president and CEO Marc Boom said in a statement after the lawsuit was dismissed. “All our employees have now met the requirements of the vaccine policy and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Jared Woodfill, a longtime activist and politician who represented the plaintiffs in that lawsuit, criticized Tuesday’s layoffs.

“I just think it’s outrageous that (hospital leaders) would send this message to people who sacrificed so much,” Woodfill told the Chronicle.

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