The highest court in the state of Louisiana upheld a hospital COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees, ruling that a top hospital can fire employees that do not comply with its policy.
“This court finds Employer is entitled to terminate Employees for failure to comply with the vaccine mandate,” said the unanimous court decision, authored by Chief Justice John Weimer in a ruling (pdf) Friday.
Employees of Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport and Ochsner-Lafayette General filed suits against the two respective hospitals in 2021, arguing that the state’s medical consent law prevented employers from setting up a vaccine mandate. Several employees said the mandate violates their right to privacy under the U.S. Constitution, according to The Advocate.
“This matter arises from a suit challenging a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which allows medical and religious exceptions, implemented by a private employer healthcare provider. The issue presented is whether the employees of the private healthcare provider stated a cause of action for constitutional and statutory violations entitling the employees to injunctive and declaratory relief,” the Supreme Court’s Friday decision also reads.
The Supreme Court ruled on two lawsuits involving Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport (pdf) and Ochsner-Lafayette General.
The Supreme Court justices also ruled that hospitals are private employers and are not bound by constitutional claims that may apply to government agencies.
“There is no allegation or even the barest insinuation that Employer is a state actor; indeed, the parties in this case stipulated that Employer is a private actor,” they said in their ruling.
Warner Thomas, CEO of Ochsner Health, praised the ruling and said he’s “pleased with the unanimous decision today from the Louisiana Supreme Court upholding the legality of Ochsner Health’s vaccination requirement.”
Jimmy Faircloth, an attorney representing some of the plaintiffs, said last month that his clients have “an affirmative right” to be free from forced medical treatment” and “have the right to request that the government protect them.”
In December, Oschner confirmed to local media that it fired about 280 employees for not complying with the hospital system’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
“Former employees in good standing will be eligible for rehire once they become compliant with this policy,” the company also wrote. At the time, the hospital system also defended firing its employees despite the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rule is being challenged in court.
Critics of mandates have said that requiring vaccines for healthcare workers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be counterproductive amid widespread shortages of staff at hospitals across the United States.
COVID-19 is the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.