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Federal judge sides with Houston hospital, says it can require employees to be vaccinated for COVID

Houston Methodist
Posted at 11:23 AM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 11:23:43-04

A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by 117 employees at a Houston-area hospital challenging the hospital's vaccine mandate.

Judge Lynn N. Hughes in the U.S. District Court in Southern Texas ruled Saturday that federal law does not prevent Houston Methodist from requiring all of its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to return to work, according to USA Today and NBC News.

"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," said Jared Woodfill, an attorney representing the hospital employees.

Woodfill added that the group would appeal to the Supreme Court "if necessary."

"We can now put this behind us and continue our focus on unparalleled safety, quality, service and innovation," Houston Methodist CEO Mac Boom said after the ruling, according to USA Today. "Our employees and physicians made their decisions for our patients, who are always at the center of everything we do."

Earlier this month, Houston Methodist announced it had suspended 178 employees for two weeks without pay after they refused to comply with hospital mandates requiring a COVID-19 vaccine.

The hospital says that after two weeks, the employees who did not get vaccinated would be fired.

The suspension came after several employees publicly protested the rule. The Washington Post reports that the hospital gave exemptions to 285 employees for religious and medical reasons, and 332 received deferrals.