Requiring Employees To Be Covid Vaccinated Is Legal – Judge

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Requiring Employees To Be Covid Vaccinated is Legal – Judge; Doesn’t Violate Federal or State Laws, and Serves a Valid Public Purpose

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Judge Rules That It Is Lawful Requiring Employees To Be Vaccinated Against Covid-19

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 13, 2021) - Federal judge Lynn Hughes (S.D. Tex.) has ruled that the Houston Methodist Hospital's policy requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 was lawful and did not violate public policy, notes public interest law professor John Banzhaf, whose analysis regarding policies mandating vaccination for returning college students reached the same conclusion.

The judge wrote that Texas' employment law [employment at will], like that of many other states, "only protects employees from being terminated for refusing to commit an act carrying criminal penalties to the worker," and that "receiving a COVID-19 vaccination is not an illegal act, and it carries no criminal penalties."

The plaintiff, Jennifer Bridges, had argued that the requirement violated public policy. But the judge ruled, correctly says Banzhaf that "the injection requirement is consistent with public policy. . . . The Supreme Court has held that (a) involuntary quarantine for contagious diseases and (b) state­ imposed requirements of mandatory vaccination do not violate due process."

This, of course, is consistent with the position of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC] that employers can require that employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 subject to reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities or sincerely held religious beliefs that preclude vaccination.

Receiving Unapproved Medicines In Emergencies

The plaintiff also repeated a favorite argument that no one can be mandated to receive "unapproved" medicines in emergencies, and she insists that no currently-available vaccines have been fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

But, ruled the federal judge, plaintiff "has misconstrued this provision. It confers certain powers and responsibilities to the Secretary of Health and Human Services in an emergency. It neither expands nor restricts the responsibilities of private employers; in fact, it does not apply at all to private employers like the hospital in this case. It does not confer a private opportunity to sue the government, employer, or worker…."

Thus, says Banzhaf, this analysis that mandatory vaccination requirement are legal applies to employees, and is not limited to hospitals, health care providers, etc.

Her arguments that the new requirement violates federal law governing the protection of "human subjects," that "federal law requires participants give legal, effective, and informed consent before participating in a human trial [and that] this consent cannot be obtained through coercion or undue influence," and that it somehow "violates the Nuremberg Code," were also rejected, and properly so, argues Banzhaf.

Imposing Conditions Or Requirement That Are Warranted

Employers, as well as governmental bodies, schools including K-12 and colleges and universities, summer camps for children, and other have long required that people receive various types of vaccinations, and courts - including the U.S. Supreme Court - have upheld them, so this ruling is nothing new or novel, argues the professor.

He has also written that it is entirely legal - unless it violates a specific state law such as the one in Florida - for theaters, venues for sporting events and concerts, cruise ships, and even individual places of public accommodation such as restaurants to require patrons to prove that they have received a COVID vaccine in order to obtain admission, favored seating, etc.

He explains that under our free enterprise systems, private businesses are permitted to impose whatever conditions or requirement they believe are warranted, unless they involve fraud, and/or discriminate on a very few criteria such as gender or race.

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