The firings follow a contentious few weeks in which hospital employees staged protests and filed a lawsuit against the hospital, claiming the policy, announced in April, violated their rights. Methodist was one of the first large health care providers in the country to announce vaccine requirements.
“I’m so happy and relieved,” Jennifer Bridges, the lead plaintiff in the suit, said Tuesday. “I don’t want any part of Methodist.”
Earlier this month, a federal judge tossed the lawsuit filed by more than 100 Methodist employees, most of whom were not doctors or nurses. In it, the plaintiffs argued Methodist’s policy violated the Nuremberg Codes, a World War II- era agreement that bans involuntary participation in medical trials.
Bridges said Tuesday that she and others planned to protest outside Methodist on Saturday, and that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones will be in attendance.
In a ruling earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes disagreed with claims made by Bridges and others.
“Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus,” the judge wrote. “It is a choice made to keep staff, patients and their families safer.”
Hughes also denied a request for a temporary restraining order to block the hospital from suspending the 178 employees who have not received a shot.
“Equating the injection requirement to medical experimentation in concentration camps is reprehensible,” Hughes said. “Nazi doctors conducted medical experiments on victims that caused pain, mutilation, permanent disability, and in many cases, death.”
Twenty-seven of the 178 employees who were suspended for two weeks without pay as a result of the requirement earlier this month had already received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The hospital said then that those employees would no longer be at risk of termination if they receive their second during the suspension.
On Tuesday, a Methodist spokesperson said a portion of the employees “became compliant with the policy.”Some chose to resign during the two-week suspension period, the spokesperson said.
Jared Woodfill, the longtime conservative activist and politician who represented the plaintiffs in that suit, criticized the hospital on Tuesday.
“I just think it’s outrageous that (hospital leaders) would send this message to people who sacrificed so much,” Woodfill said.
In May, federal regulators issued guidance allowing employers to require proof of vaccination as a condition of employment.
Under Texas law, health care workers are not required to receive specific vaccines. Hospitals in the state must offer hepatitis vaccines to employees and allow for religious exemptions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. government allows employers to craft their own vaccine policies, giving them broad authority when it comes to asking about employees’ vaccination statuses, provided that information is kept confidential, Susan Bickley, a labor and employment attorney at Houston’s Blank Rome, told the Chronicle last month.
Last month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that employers can mandate employee vaccinations, provided they don’t violate provisions of the American with Disabilities Act or religious exemptions.
When asked if she plans to continue fighting her former employer, Bridges’ answer was succinct: “Hell yes.”
This content was originally published here.