In what appears to be the first of likely many other lawsuits on this topic, a federal judge in Houston, Texas, dismissed a claim by 117 hospital workers who challenged the mandatory vaccination policy implemented by their employer. Approximately 99% of the hospital's workers had complied with the vaccination policy.
The approach of the hospital reflects the recent EEOC green light for employers to mandate vaccination. As there is currently no federal or state law requiring vaccination, employers are left to decide for themselves whether to wade into the charged arena of mandating vaccination. Some employers have opted for the soft approach by offering monetary incentives to entice voluntary vaccination.
What is likely different in the Houston lawsuit is the nature of the employer's work, namely providing healthcare services. While the plaintiffs argued that they were facing wrongful termination, the judge disagreed, stating that it was a choice "made to keep staff, patients and their families safer."
Despite the loss, the plaintiffs have indicated they plan to appeal, so this is not the end of the story. However, the fact that the hospital did not back down and reverse its mandate indicates that some industries - even if only very limited at this time - are now taking more of an aggressive approach to the vaccination debate.