Attorney Jared Woodfill, who’s representing dozens of health care workers in several lawsuits against Houston Methodist, said those employees should get their jobs back following Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent executive order barring any entity in the state from imposing vaccine mandates.
“Gov. Abbott says very clearly, ‘Whereas countless Texans fear losing their livelihoods because they object to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination for reasons of personal conscience,'” Woodfill wrote in a letter to the hospital system this week. “That applies to every plaintiff that I represent and every plaintiff that Methodist hospital thought it was appropriate to fire.”
Based on the order, employees who were terminated from their Houston Methodist jobs should “immediately be reinstated to their former positions,” Woodfill wrote in the Oct. 12 letter.
After Abbott’s order earlier this week, Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom said he was “deeply disappointed in the governor’s order that tries to prohibit such mandates,” according to local media.
“We are proud of our employees and physicians, who are 100 percent compliant with our vaccine policy,” Boom said.
Boom, who hasn’t yet addressed Woodfill’s letter and request, asserted that the hospital’s policy—which was implemented earlier in 2021—was put into place before Abbott’s order was issued.
“We are grateful we mandated the vaccine early, so the order will not have an immediate impact on us,” he said. “We are reviewing the order now and its possible implications.”
The CEO said he hopes that other major Texas hospital systems, including Baylor College of Medicine and Memorial Hermann, will implement their COVID-19 vaccine mandates after Abbott’s order.
But according to Abbott’s Oct. 11 order, no entity or institution in Texas can force workers or customers to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination “who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.” Abbott also stipulated that the vaccine is effective and safe, but “should remain voluntary and never forced.”
The governor’s order appears to clash with an announcement from President Joe Biden in September that would mandate vaccinations for health care workers who are employed at Medicare- or Medicaid-funded facilities, federal workers, and federal contractors. Previously, Abbott, a Republican, has criticized Biden’s announcement and said it would trigger workforce chaos.
In July, 178 employees were suspended or resigned from Houston Methodist after declining to get the vaccine. Several weeks later, about 150 more employees either resigned or were terminated.
A lawsuit that was filed by plaintiffs represented by Woodfill was rejected by a judge earlier in 2021. Woodfill said he would appeal.
COVID-19 is the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Representatives for Houston Methodist didn’t respond by press time to a request for comment on Woodfill’s letter.