Judge dismisses suit against Houston Methodist Hospital over vaccine requirement

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Sunday, June 13, 2021
Judge dismisses lawsuit fighting hospital worker vaccine requirement
The employees had sued the hospital over its vaccine requirement. A judge called the lawsuit frivolous.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of employees at a Houston hospital system who were fighting the hospital's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes called the lawsuit frivolous.

116 Houston Methodist Hospital employees sued Houston Methodist late last month after the entity set a June 7 deadline for workers to be vaccinated.

"We can now put this behind us and continue our focus on unparalleled safety, quality, service and innovation," hospital president and CEO Marc Boom said Saturday in a statement. "All our employees have now met the requirements of the vaccine policy and I couldn't be prouder of them."

RELATED: Houston Methodist Hospital suspends 178 employees over COVID-19 vaccine requirement

The hospital made good on its threat and suspended 178 employees last week for not complying with the requirement, according to a statement by Houston Methodist representatives. A temporary restraining order to block those suspensions was also denied.

"The public's interest in having a hospital capable of caring for patients during a pandemic far outweighs protecting the vaccination preferences of 116 employees," Hughes wrote. "The plaintiffs are not just jeopardizing their own health; they are jeopardizing the health of doctors, nurses, support staff, patients and their families."

In a statement issued by Houston Methodist, 24,947 employees have complied and are fully vaccinated.

The 178 who did not comply were a mix of full- and part-time employees. They were not granted an exemption or deferral and were suspended without pay for the next 14 days.

285 workers received a medical or religious exemption, hospital officials said. 332 employees were granted deferrals for pregnancy and other reasons.

READ MORE: Medical workers sue Houston Methodist over job requirement to receive COVID vaccine

More than 115 workers are named on the lawsuit that claims their employer is forcing workers to be "human guinea pigs."

Jennifer Bridges told ABC13 earlier this month that she does not want to take the COVID-19 vaccine because it does not have full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

READ MORE: Group of Houston Methodist nurses host walkout over COVID-19 vaccine job requirement

Monday was the deadline for employees to get the COVID vaccine or face losing their jobs, which led to a lawsuit involving more than 100 nurses.

The vaccine is currently being used in the U.S. under emergency use authorization from the FDA. Pfizer began its full application for full approval last month.

READ ALSO: How many people in your area are hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine?