Over 100 employees sued a Houston hospital for requiring COVID-19 vaccines, saying they were forced to be 'human guinea pigs'
- More than 100 workers are suing Houston Methodist Hospital over its vaccine mandate.
- The staffers allege the hospital is violating the Nuremberg Code against human experimentation.
- The hospital says the vaccines are not “experimental” and have been shown to be safe and effective.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Dozens of workers at Houston Methodist Hospital have sued their employer over a policy requiring them to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The lawsuit, filed Friday, includes the names of more than 100 staffers and alleged that the hospital was “forcing its employees to be human ‘guinea pigs’ as a condition for continued employment.”
Houston Methodist made national headlines earlier this year when it announced it would require its 26,000 employees to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by June 7.
“Those who are not vaccinated by that date face suspension and eventual termination,” the hospital said in a FAQ page published in April. The hospital’s policy also contained exemptions for workers with sincerely held religious beliefs, and certain medical conditions, including pregnancy.
The lawsuit called the COVID-19 vaccines “experimental,” and noted that none have been granted full approval by the US Food and Drug Administration. Instead, the FDA has granted “emergency use authorization” to the three major vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.
Each of the vaccines have undergone rigorous clinical trials involving tens of thousands of participants. Pfizer and BioNTech have already applied for full approval of their vaccine and Moderna has announced plans to apply soon.
The workers allege the hospital is violating the Nuremberg Code against human experimentation
The lawsuit against Houston Methodist cited the Nuremberg Code of 1947, regarding medical ethics around consent and experimentation, saying workers had a “right to avoid the imposition of human experimentation.”
“Shockingly, [Houston Methodist’s] policy memo fails to recognize, appreciate, or identify that the ‘mandatory immunization’ and ‘vaccination program’ requires the employee to be injected with an experimental vaccine that has not been approved by the FDA.” the lawsuit said.
A Houston Methodist spokesperson told Insider in a statement that 99% of the network’s employees have already been fully vaccinated and that the hospital is “extremely proud of our employees for doing the right thing and protecting our patients from this deadly virus.”
The statement also noted that there’s precedent for a mandatory vaccination policy at the hospital.
“It is unfortunate that the few remaining employees who refuse to get vaccinated and put our patients first are responding in this way,” the statement said. “It is legal for health care institutions to mandate vaccines, as we have done with the flu vaccine since 2009. The COVID-19 vaccines have proven through rigorous trials to be very safe and very effective and are not experimental.”
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Friday released updated guidance on vaccine mandates, noting that federal laws allow employers to require COVID-19 vaccines for workers who are physically present at the workplace — so long as the employers also include accommodations such as religious and medical exemptions.
The lawsuit against Houston Methodist alleged that the hospital has “arbitrarily denied” some employees’ requests for religious and medical exemptions.
The lawsuit requested that a judge order a temporary injunction to prevent the hospital from taking action against non-compliant employees while the case is litigated.
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