Texas Judge Upholds Large Hospital’s Vaccine Mandate

On Saturday, June 12th, Federal District Judge Lynn N. Hughes ruled that Houston Methodist, a major hospital system in Texas, may require its employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, dismissing the employees’ claim that the mandate unlawfully coerced employees to be vaccinated or face termination.

In a short ruling, Judge Hughes said that the requirement broke no federal law. And that the mandatory vaccine requirement for all employees “is not coercion.”  Rather, “Methodist 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.  Employees can freely choose to accept or refuse a Covid-19 vaccine; however, if they refuse, they will simply need to work somewhere else.”

The lawsuit arose after Houston Methodist became one of the first major healthcare systems to mandate employees to be vaccinated.  178 of its 26,000 employees refused to be vaccinated. Subsequently, the employees sued the hospital, arguing that vaccines are “experimental and dangerous,” even comparing the vaccine mandate to the “forced medical experimentation during the Holocaust.”

Judge Hughes said the plaintiffs’ allegation that the vaccines are “experimental and dangerous” is both false and irrelevant.  Additionally, he said that “equating the injection requirements to medical experimentation in concentration camps is reprehensible.”

The lawyer representing the plaintiffs told the media that they’re not done “fighting this unjust policy,” and that his clients are committed to appealing the decision.  In any case, the decision marks an early test of how challenges to future vaccine mandates may hold up in the courts.

Tyler Z. Powell is a rising 3L at the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law. At school, he is an Articles Editor for the University of Louisville Law Review and a member of the Brandeis Hiking Club and the Labor and Employment Law Society. Tyler is a summer law clerk at DBL.

Kelly A. Holden leads DBL Law’s Employment Law practice group which represents private and public employers.  Her practice includes advising clients on compliance with various employment matters and providing in-house training on such issues.  DBL Law is a full-service law firm with 50 attorneys and offices in Cincinnati, Louisville and Northern Kentucky.