More than 150 employees at a Houston hospital system resigned or were fired after they were told to get a coronavirus vaccine to keep their jobs.
In April, Houston Methodist became one of the first hospital systems in the country to impose a vaccine mandate for its employees.
By June 7, most of the hospital’s employees had complied, but the 178 people who refused to receive the vaccine were suspended for two weeks.
Twenty-five of the employees who were suspended decided to get the vaccine and return to work.
The other 153 either resigned or were terminated on Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.
Several employees filed a lawsuit against Houston Methodist over the mandate, arguing the rule forced “employees to be human ‘guinea pigs’ as a condition for continued employment.”
However, the lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge earlier this month.
“This is not coercion,” U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes wrote. “Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus. It is a choice made to keep staff, patients, and their families safer.”
The former employees behind the lawsuit have already appealed the judge’s dismissal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“I’m hoping if we win this at a federal level then they’re going to create laws to protect employees from having to go through this anywhere else in the country,” said Jennifer Bridges, a former nurse with the hospital who is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Bridges said that every one of the hospital employees who refused to comply with the vaccine mandate knew that doing so would cost them their jobs, but she called the resistance a necessary effort.
“We all knew we were getting fired today,” she said. “We knew unless we took that shot to come back, we were getting fired today. There was no ifs, ands, or buts.”
(The Associated Press contributed to this report).