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June 17, 2021

Texas Federal District Judge Dismisses COVID-19 Vaccine Lawsuit Against Employer

On June 12, United States District Judge Lynn Hughes of the Southern District of Texas issued an order dismissing a lawsuit filed by a group of healthcare workers against the Methodist Healthcare System (Methodist) in Houston. The lawsuit, originally filed in a state district court, alleged that Methodist, with over 25,000 employees, illegally retaliated against the employees based on their refusal to get vaccinated based on vaccine safety and efficacy issues. The ruling found that there was no actionable retaliation because Texas law required the employee to be ordered to commit an illegal act, and that receiving the vaccine is not an illegal act. Further, the judge denied a request for a declaratory judgment that an employer vaccine mandate was invalid as a violation of federal law, finding that the employees had misconstrued federal law related to the emergency use authorization for the vaccines. Finally, Judge Hughes addressed the employees’ arguments equating the injection requirement to medical experimentation in Nazi concentration camps by calling the argument "reprehensible." The employees have vowed to appeal.