A group of past and present health care workers from St. Elizabeth Physicians sought a preliminary injunction from the court to block the employer’s vaccine mandate.
The plaintiffs argued that the mandate violated their constitutional rights and that the employer failed to accommodate religious and medical exemptions in line with federal statutes.
“If an employee believes his or her individual liberties are more important than legally permissible conditions on his or her employment, that employee can and should choose to exercise another individual liberty, no less significant—the right to seek other employment,” U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning wrote in a 20-page opinion (pdf).
Bunning noted, as has a judge in a similar case in Texas, that people routinely give up individual liberties in exchange for employment.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs expressed concerns about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
“They have also presented the opinions of medical professionals who share the same suspicions. But unfortunately, suspicions cannot override the law, which recognizes Defendants’ right to set conditions of employment,” Bunning wrote.
According to Bunning’s order, St. Elizabeth Physicians granted 425 religious and 31 medical exemptions, accounting for 57 percent and 13 percent, respectively, of the total requests submitted.
Bunning cited a 1905 court decision that found that a smallpox vaccine mandate imposed by the state of Massachusetts was legal.
“Actual liberty for all of us cannot exist where individual liberties override potential injury done to others,” Bunning wrote. “For that reason, the state of Massachusetts was permitted to impose a vaccine mandate without exception, and with a penalty of imprisonment, during the smallpox pandemic.”
The plaintiffs wrote in the complaint (pdf) filed on Sept. 3 that the issues of both COVID-19 and the vaccines against it are a “fraud upon the public from government, pharmaceutical, social media, mainstream media, corporate America, healthcare and political parties.”
The lawsuit also said that “Americans are not receiving an FDA approved vaccine.” As of the date of the filing of the lawsuit, the FDA had granted emergency authorization for three vaccines and full authorization for one.
In June, a federal judge in Texas dismissed a lawsuit brought by more than 100 Houston Methodist hospital employees. The plaintiffs in the case appealed the decision.