A Texas hospital has suspended 178 employees who refused to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, despite being mandated by this week.
The Houston Methodist Hospital, which serves eight hospitals and employs more than 26,000 people, gave employees a deadline on Monday to receive the vaccine or risk suspension and termination.
The hospital said Tuesday that 178 full-time or part-time workers who were not fully vaccinated and received no exemption or deferral have been suspended for 14 days without pay for failing to meet the requirement.
If the suspended people are not vaccinated within the two-week period, they will be discharged, a hospital spokesman told ABC News.
Dr. Marc Boom, the president and CEO of the Houston Methodist, said in a statement that nearly 100% of the hospital staff were on mandate and 24,947 were fully vaccinated.
Of suspended staff, he said 27 had received one dose of the vaccine, “so I’m confident they will get their second dose soon.”
“We won’t have the final numbers for two weeks, as employees can still get their second dose or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in one dose,” said Boom. “I wish the number could be zero, but unfortunately a few people have chosen not to put their patients first.”
Of all employees, 285 were given medical or religious exemptions and 332 were granted a stay because of pregnancy and other reasons, he said.
“This decision was ultimately made for our patients as they are the focus of everything HoustonMethodist does,” he said in the statement.
Last month, 117 Houston Methodist employees sued the hospital for mandating the vaccine. The lawsuit, filed in Montgomery County, alleged that the hospital “illegally required that its employees be injected with an experimental vaccine as a working condition.”
The lawsuit cited that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued its first emergency approval for COVID-19 in December 2020, but that the vaccines are waiting for full approval and approval by the FDA, which will likely take months Agency checked additional data.
The lawsuit alleged forcing plaintiffs to take the vaccine, violating Texas public order, and seeking an injunction to prevent the hospital from firing staff.
Attorney Jared Woodfill, who filed the lawsuit, told ABC News last month that Houston Methodist is forcing employees to get the injection to increase the hospital’s profits.
“To promote their business and increase profits at the expense of other health care providers and the health of their employees, the defendants publicly advertise that they ‘urge all employees and employed doctors to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.’ More specifically, Defendants ’employees are being forced to act as human guinea pigs in order to increase Defendants’ profits, “Woodfill said. “It is a grave and blatant violation of the Nuremberg Code and the public order of the state of Texas.”
The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, a federal agency that protects workers from discrimination, issued a new policy last month stating that employers can legally require COVID-19 vaccines to re-enter a physical workplace as long as they follow the requirements to find alternative arrangements for workers unable to be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons.
Some of these accommodations may allow an unvaccinated employee to wear a face mask and social distance while at work, work a changed shift, receive regular testing for COVID-19, be able to telework or accept a reassignment, so the instruction .
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