Judge upholds firing health care workers who don't get vaccinated for COVID-19

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2021/06/15/judge-upholds-firing-health-care-workers-who-dont-get-vaccinated-for-covid-19.html


The Young Pope GIF




Shakira Reaction GIF


Hospitals have a legal right to fire workers for not getting tested for TB. Why is this even a question?

Of course hospitals can protect patients from antivaxxers.


No, religious exemptions to spread deadly disease are not reasonable.


What happened to conservatives’ cry to minimum-wage folks that “if you don’t like your job just go get another?” Does that apply here?




I’m wondering how an employer or court would decide if a religious exemption to vaccination is reasonable. I can think of two ways to go about it.

First, they could just take the employee’s word for it that they have a legit religious problem with getting vaccinated. Which would basically mean ANY religious complaint would stand.

Second, they could attempt to ascertain if the religious grounds for the vaccine exemption are legit, within the framework of the employee’s religion. That would put the employer/court in the position of judging if the employee’s religious belief is “proper” for their religion. I can’t imagine that working out well.

And finally, none of that addresses the implication that some workers may have a reasonable religious objection, and therefore allow some population of unvaccinated health care workers to keep working. Which is itself bonkers.

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ahem Amen!


It obviously leaves enough wiggle room to keep appeals courts busy indefinitely; but I’ve always been fond of the formulation(I’m pretty sure it was Locke’s, haven’t managed to track it down in the limited time available during lunch) that the boundary between state power and the individual’s right to religious observance is, on the one hand, the requirement that the state must not adopt a law or policy that is cloaked in some nominally secular language but is aimed at either suppression or support of a given sect (slightly contrived example; dietary mercury is bad; but ‘fishless friday’ is clearly more about upsetting catholics than about public health); and on the other hand the absolute position that no protestation of faith(sincere or otherwise, conveniently it doesn’t matter for this purpose) can give someone license to do what would otherwise be forbidden for non-sectarian reasons by the state.

It’s elegant, clean, lines obviously don’t survive contact with reality(whether it’s the smarmy, pitifully insincere, “my public jesus thing isn’t an establishment clause problem because it’s just a religiously neutral civic tradition!” nonsense; or the actually subtler problem, common in Europe, of whether public interest in forbidding kosher/halal slaughter methods is a legitimate expression of public interest in animal welfare; or a super handy way to stick it two a couple of unpopular minority religions); but it beats the alternatives in my view.

In this case, of course, this construction would absolutely support the ability of the state to require vaccines and other measures in the service of urgent public health objectives; so long as they didn’t use it as an excuse to pincushion whatever sect they disliked; and the question of sincerity or cynicism would simply be irrelevant: if it’s a legitimate, nonsectarian, exercise of public interest the true believers and the scammers are equally subject to it; and if it’s not then there’s no need to pass some sort of ‘you must be this pious’ check in order to demand that it stop.


I’m not aware of any religion that would object to a vaccine other than Christian Scientists, but they wouldn’t be working at a hospital anyway. Hmm.


Additional info:
Article from Houston Chronicle
…Hughes also ruled that making vaccinations a condition of employment was not coercion, as Bridges contended.
“Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else. If a worker refuses an assignment, changed office, earlier start time, or other directive, he may be properly fired. Every employment includes limits on the worker’s behavior in exchange for remuneration. That is all part of the bargain,” Hughes concluded.

Jared Woodfill, a Houston lawyer representing Bridges and the other clients, promised an appeal…
[emphasis mine]

Woodfill is a notorious RWNJ & former head of the Harris County Republican Party.
Remember the Bathroom Bill in Houston, a few years ago? That was his doing… well, he & a few other RWNJs.
TBH, I had forgotten that he is a Land Shark, but a search on the bird brings up all sorts of interesting articles about him.


Pluheeeeeeze make this stick everywhere. EVERYWHERE!*

*a cry from Georgia


joins in said cry


The Houston Methodist employees likened their situation to medical experiments performed on unwilling victims in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. The judge called that comparison “reprehensible”

The anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers are really taking that particular anti-Semitic ball and running with it. I’m glad the judge called it out for what it is.


I’ve seen comparisons to the holocaust, nazis, slavery, and more. The ignorance with those comparisons is pretty impressive though unsurprising.


Watch a bunch of trumpists claiming it’s perfectly reasonable.

“After all, antifa ridiculously compares trump separating children from their parents then putting then in cages with the holocaust. How is it any less ridiculous to compare not being allowed to make others sick with the holocaust?”


Judge upholds firing employees unless they say the magic word “religious conviction”. It’s insane how laws magically disappear with magic words. If the judge wants to call the lawsuit reprehensible for saying the burden of vaccination is onerous, then the judge upholding religious exemptions is equally so.


And yet the same judge upholds the idea that they can’t be fired if they use the magic words “religious conviction”.