Last week, a federal district court judge in Texas dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of Houston hospital workers who object to their employer’s requirement that all employees receive the COVID-19 vaccination. The plaintiffs claimed that under Texas law, terminating them for refusing to obtain a vaccination that has not received permanent FDA approval constituted wrongful discharge.
The judge rejected these claims, dismissing the lawsuit only one day following oral arguments. The court concluded that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe, and that Texas public policy in fact supports vaccination efforts. Hospitals have a clear interest in protecting patients and staff from infection. Texas law only allows wrongful discharge claims where the employer is engaging in illegal activities. Requiring employees to become vaccinated is not illegal under Texas law.
The court went beyond a dry legal assessment of the plaintiffs’ claims, and admonished them for comparing the vaccine mandate to the Holocaust, and for using unverified claims that thousands of Americans have died from the COVID-19 vaccine. In the end, the court noted that employees who object to the hospital’s policy are free to find work elsewhere.
This quick and decisive dismissal demonstrates the difficulty employees will have in convincing courts to intervene against companies that decide to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations. If as expected, the FDA grants permanent approval of the vaccinations within the next several months, the legal grounds for these suits would become even more tenuous.