In the first federal ruling on vaccine mandates, a Houston judge has dismissed a lawsuit by hospital employees who declined the COVID-19 shot – a decision that could have a ripple effect across the nation.
The case involved Houston Methodist, which was the first hospital system in the country to require that all its employees get vaccinated. U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes ruled Saturday that federal law does not prevent employers from issuing that mandate.
After months of warnings, Houston Methodist had put more than 170 of its 26,000 employees on unpaid suspension Monday. They were told they would be fired it they weren’t vaccinated by June 21.
The hospital had made it clear it meant what it said: It fired the director of corporate risk – Bob Nevens – and another manager in April when they did not meet the earlier deadline for bosses.
In recent weeks, a few other major hospitals have followed Houston Methodist’s lead, including the University of Pennsylvania, University of Louisville, New York Presbyterian and several major hospitals in the Washington, D.C., area.
Houston Methodist’s CEO Marc Boom predicts more hospitals soon will enact vaccine mandates. Many hospitals and employers were waiting for legal clarification before acting.
“We can now put this behind us and continue our focus on unparalleled safety, quality, service and innovation,” Boom said after the ruling. “Our employees and physicians made their decisions for our patients, who are always at the center of everything we do.”
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SOURCE: USA Today, David Heath