The Decision

The judge wrote a scathing decision, referring to the plaintiffs’ complaint as “press-release style.”

First the judge noted that the bulk of the plaintiffs’ arguments were that the currently available COVID-19 vaccines are experimental and dangerous. “This claim is false, and it is also irrelevant,” wrote the judge. “Texas law only protects employees from being terminated for refusing to commit an act carrying criminal penalties to the worker,” noted the judge. To succeed, the plaintiffs would have to show that they were required to commit an illegal act which carried criminal penalties. The judge pointed out that the complaint does not specify what illegal act the employees had to perform. “Receiving a COVID-19 vaccination is not an illegal act, and it carries no criminal penalties,” wrote the judge, who went on to say that the employees are refusing to accept inoculation that “in the hospital’s judgment will make it safer for their workers and the patients.”

The judge also noted that the injection requirement did not violate public policy and that the Supreme Court has held that “(a) involuntary quarantine for contagious disease and (b) state-imposed requirements of mandatory vaccination do not violate due process.”

Addressing the plaintiffs’ contentions that the Hospital’s mandate violates federal law, the judge clarified that the plaintiffs had misconstrued and misapplied the law. “It confers certain powers to the Secretary of Health and Human Services in an emergency. It neither expands nor restricts the responsibilities of private employers: in fact, it does not apply at all to private employers like the hospital in this case.”

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The judge was horrified at the plaintiffs’ comparison of their situation to forced medical experimentation during the Holocaust. “The Nuremberg Code does not apply because the hospital is a private employer not a government. Equating the injection requirement to medical experimentation in concentration camps is reprehensible.”

Finally, the court pointed out that being given a choice of a vaccine or being fired is not coercion. The hospital “is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus. It is a choice made to keep staff, patients, and their families safer. Plaintiffs can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if they refuse, they will need to work elsewhere.

“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. That is all part of the bargain,” concluded the judge, who then dismissed the case.

Protecting Yourself

The bottom line is that an employer can mandate a vaccination policy for its employees. As with other employment policies, a worker has a choice – comply with the policy or deal with the consequences, which could include finding a new job. It is worth noting that at the end of May 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that employers can require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 subject to reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs that preclude vaccination. While this was a non-binding statement, it is a good indication about the attitude towards mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations.