About 117 workers say they are afraid they could lose their jobs if they stand up to the hospital’s vaccine mandate.
Dozens of Houston Methodist have joined a lawsuit against the Texas health network, which has ordered all of its workers to get vaccinated against novel coronavirus.
ABC News reports that Houston Methodist—which oversees eight hospitals and employs more than 26,000 people—has given staff until June 7th to get inoculated. Employees who do not get a vaccine, or do not attempt to get a vaccine, may be suspended or fired.
“Please see the H.R. policy that outlines the consequences of not being complaint by June 7, which includes suspension and eventually termination,” Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Marc Boom wrote in an April letter, distributed to the network’s many staffers.
Now, at least 117 employees have filed a lawsuit against the health network.
In their lawsuit—filed in Montgomery County court—the workers allege that Houston Methodist is “illegally requiring its employees to be injected with an experimental vaccine as a condition of employment.”
The complaint notes that, although the federal Food and Drug Administration has authorized different coronavirus vaccines for emergency use, none have received full FDA approval and licensing—a process which could take months to complete.
According to ABC News, the lawsuit also claims that Houston Methodist’s vaccination policy runs afoul of the Nuremberg Code, a medical ethics code which prohibits forced medical experiments and mandates that anyone involved in such experiments be a volunteer.
Jared Woodfill, an attorney for the workers, told ABC that Houston Methodist is not trying to protect its employees or patients by mandating they receive a vaccine—instead, the company is trying to increase its profit margins.
“To promote its business and increase profits at the expense of other health care providers and their employees’ health, Defendants advertise to the public that they ‘require all employees and employed physicians to get a COVID-19 vaccine,’” Woodfill told ABC. “More clearly, Defendants’ employees are being forced to serve as human ‘guinea pigs’ to increase Defendants’ profits.”
“It is a severe and blatant violation of the Nuremberg Code and the public policy of the state of Texas,” he added.
Dr. Boom, notes ABC, told the network that employees do not have to get vaccinated if they claim a medical or religious exemption.
Boom also pointed out that about 99% of Houston Methodist’s employees have already been vaccinated—and that it is only a very small minority who have any issue with the network’s inoculation mandate.
“It is unfortunate that the few remaining employees who refuse to get vaccinated and put our patients first are responding in this way,” Dr. Boom told ABC. “It is legal for health care institutions to mandate vaccines, as we have done with the flu vaccine since 2009. The COVID-19 vaccines have proven through rigorous trials to be very safe and very effective and are not experimental.”