HOUSTON, Texas — More than 150 Houston Methodist Hospital employees were officially out of a job Tuesday, 10 days after a judge dismissed a lawsuit against the hospital by employees who opposed a Covid-19 vaccine mandate as a condition of employment, a hospital spokesperson said.
The 153 employees either resigned in the two-week suspension period that began June 8 or were terminated Tuesday, according to Gale Smith.
Employees who complied with the mandatory vaccination policy during the suspension period returned to work the day after they became compliant, Smith told CNN in an email Tuesday night.
Houston Methodist on March 31 became the first major health care system in the country to mandate Covid-19 vaccinations, starting with managers, according to an initial announcement from Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom.
More than 100 of the hospital’s employees involved in the lawsuit claimed the vaccines were “experimental and dangerous,” and that it would be “wrongful” to be terminated for refusing to get vaccinated.
The hospital countered that the claims were not true, and that workers are protected from termination under Texas law only if they refuse to commit a criminal act that carries criminal penalties.
The three vaccines used in the United States currently have emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration, but not yet full FDA approval.
Employees had to get the Covid-19 vaccine by June 7, CNN previously reported.
Houston Methodist said it did not have information on how many employees resigned and how many were fired.
Boom said earlier this month that 24,947 employees were fully vaccinated and that the hospital had reached almost full compliance with the mandate, with fewer than 200 suspended for not yet complying.
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in December said companies can legally mandate that all employees re-entering the workplace and new hires be vaccinated for Covid-19. The only exceptions allowed are for disabilities and religious reasons.