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A federal judge tossed out a lawsuit from more than 100 hospital employees who sued Houston Methodist over its policy requiring all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The workers alleged in their lawsuit that the hospital was “forcing its employees to be human ‘guinea pigs’ as a condition for continued employment.” They also accused the hospital of violating the Nuremberg Code of 1947, likening the vaccine mandate to Nazi medical experimentation on concentration camp prisoners.

US District Judge Lynn Hughes was not sympathetic to either argument, writing in his order of dismissal Saturday evening that none of the employees were forced or coerced to take the vaccine. He also noted that the hospital cannot violate the Nuremberg Code because it is a private employer, not a government.

“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.”

He added that the workers were free to accept or reject a vaccine and that they would “simply need to work elsewhere” if they chose the latter.

“If a worker refuses an assignment, changed office, earlier start time, or other directive, he may be properly fired. Every employment includes limits on the worker’s behavior in exchange for his remuneration,” Hughes wrote. “That is all part of the bargain.”

The lawyer representing the hospital staff, Jared Woodfill, told Insider in a statement he intends to appeal the ruling to a federal appeals court and to the US Supreme Court if necessary.

“This is just one battle in a larger war to protect the rights of employees to be free from being forced to participate in a vaccine trial as a condition for employment,” Woodfill said. “Employment should not be conditioned upon whether you will agree to serve as a human guinea pig.”

The hospital has already suspended 178 workers who have missed the vaccine deadline

Houston Methodist made national headlines earlier this year when it announced it would require its 26,000 employees to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by June 7.

“Those who are not vaccinated by that date face suspension and eventual termination,” the hospital said in a FAQ page published in April.

The hospital’s policy also contained exemptions for workers with sincerely held religious beliefs and certain medical conditions, including pregnancy.

Since then, the hospital system has suspended 178 workers who didn’t meet the vaccination deadline. They will be fired if they aren’t vaccinated by June 21.

The lawsuit called the COVID-19 vaccines “experimental,” and noted that none have been granted full approval by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA has granted “emergency use authorization” to the three major vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

Each of the vaccines have undergone rigorous clinical trials involving tens of thousands of participants. Pfizer and BioNTech have already applied for full approval of their vaccine and Moderna has announced plans to apply soon.

In a statement to Insider, Houston Methodist’s president and CEO, Dr. Marc Boom, praised the hospital system’s 26,000 employees who received the vaccine.

“Our employees and physicians made their decisions for our patients, who are always at the center of everything we do,” he said. “We can now put this behind us and continue our focus on unparalleled safety, quality, service and innovation.”

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