HOUSTON — A federal judge in Texas on Saturday dismissed a lawsuit by 117 staffers of a Houston hospital system who were suing over a COVID-19 vaccine requirement.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes ruled that employees at Houston Methodist Hospital were not illegally being forced to get vaccinated in order to keep their jobs, The Hill reported.
The lawsuit alleged that requiring employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine was forcing them to participate in a clinical trial, KHOU reported.
“We took the position that it shouldn’t be dismissed for a whole host of reasons and we believe that forcing an individual to participate in a vaccine trial is illegal,” Jared Woodfill, the attorney for employees, told the television station. Woodfill said he plans to appeal the decision.
The decision is a victory for Houston Methodist, which was the first hospital system in the country to mandate its employees get vaccinated.
Houston Methodist President and CEO Marc Boom said in a statement that the hospital system can now “put this behind us.”
“Our employees and physicians made their decisions for our patients, who are always at the center of everything we do,” Boom said in the statement. “They have fulfilled their sacred obligation as health care workers, and we couldn’t ask for a more dedicated, caring and talented team.”
The 117 plaintiffs, led by Jennifer Bridges, a nurse, accused the hospital system of “forcing its employees to be human ‘guinea pigs’ as a condition for continued employment,” according to court documents.
Hughes criticized the plaintiffs for comparing the vaccine mandate to forced experimentation during the Holocaust, The Hill reported.
“Equating the injection requirement to medical experimentation in concentration camps is reprehensible,” Hughes wrote. “Nazi doctors conducted medical experiments on victims that caused pain, mutilation, permanent disability, and in many cases, death.”
Earlier this week, Houston Methodist suspended 178 employees for failing to comply with the facility’s COVID-19 requirement for workers.
While 24,947 of Houston Methodist’s employees were fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus by Monday’s deadline, the employees who did not comply were suspended without pay for two weeks, KTRK reported.
The hospital system includes a medical center and six community hospitals.
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