Hospital administrators are not alone when thinking about using a policy that would require workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine. This is especially true at a time when the virus is evolving and appears to be more contagious than before. But such policies can come with ramifications.
In a recent case, over 100 workers are suing a Texas hospital system over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The policy in question put employees who failed to comply with the vaccine requirement on a two-week suspension. If they did not comply within that period or qualify for an exemption or deferral, the hospital would begin its employee termination process. The hospital workers argue that the vaccine is experimental and that it is illegal to require workers to get an experimental treatment to keep their jobs.
The workers are using two laws to support their argument. First, that the requirement is in violation of Texas public policy and second that it is a violation of the Nuremberg Code. The Nuremberg Code is a medical ethics code that went into effect in response to human experimentation during the Nuremberg trials at the end of World War II. When presented with the case, the federal judge dismissed the lawsuit and rejected the employees’ claims.
The workers are not giving up. They have stated that they will move forward with an appeal and plan to keep “fighting this unjust policy.” We will provide updates on the progression of this case as they become available.
Hospital admin are wise to take note of this case. It highlights the likelihood that workers will push back against these types of policies. As a result, it is important to draft these types of policies carefully and make sure it is within the bounds of the law. A failure to do so could result in a policy that cannot withstand a legal challenge.