May 30, 2021 - Health

117 staff sue Houston Methodist over COVID vaccine requirement

An American flag flies outside the Houston Methodist Hospital at the Texas Medical Center (TMC) campus in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, June 24, 2020.

The Houston Methodist Hospital at the Texas Medical Center campus in Houston, Texas. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Houston Methodist Hospital is being sued by 117 employees who allege its policy requiring all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is unlawful, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

Why it matters: The lawsuit and similar legal challenges "could test whether employers can require employee vaccinations as the country navigates out of a pandemic that has killed nearly 600,000 Americans," WashPost notes.

  • The hospital has said it will fire workers who decline to get vaccinated before a June 7 deadline, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Of note: The federal government said Friday it is legal for companies to require workers to get coronavirus vaccines.

Details: The employees allege in the suit, filed Friday, that the hospital is "forcing its employees to be human 'guinea pigs’ as a condition for continued employment," per Bloomberg.

  • "It is a severe and blatant violation of the Nuremberg Code and the public policy of the state of Texas," the suit alleges, in reference to a code created to protect people from undergoing cruel treatment like that experienced by Nazi prisoners during World War II.

What they're saying: The Houston Methodist Hospital said in a statement to news outlets 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. More than 165 million people in the U.S. alone have received vaccines against COVID-19, and this has resulted in the lowest numbers of infections in our country and in the Houston region in more than a year."
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