Henry Ford workers sue to stop COVID-19 vaccine mandate

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More than 50 employees of the Henry Ford Health System have filed a lawsuit in federal court, hoping to stop a September 10 warrant that requires all workers, volunteers and contractors in the Detroit hospital system to get vaccinated against coronavirus or lose their jobs.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court in Detroit, alleges that the Detroit-based hospital system’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate is unconstitutional and infringes on workers’ bodily autonomy and the right to reject a medical treatment.

He says the vaccines “offer limited immunity,” and says Henry Ford uses coercion to force workers to get vaccinated.

In a statement, Henry Ford told Free Press: “We remain convinced that vaccination is the most powerful tool we all have against the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond that, we cannot comment on pending disputes. “

Henry Ford was the first Michigan hospital system to announce in late June that it would require all its staff to take COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of employment. As of Wednesday, 92% of its more than 33,000 employees had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

This sparked protests among the workers.

Waivers of the mandate for medical or religious reasons are being considered, said Dr Adnan Munkarah, executive vice president and clinical director of the five hospital system.

“We continue to work with the rest of the group (…) Munkarah said at a press conference last week.

Dr Adnan Munkarah, Executive Vice President and Clinical Director of Henry Ford Health System.

“We hope that we will be able to retain our staff and that we will not have to see any of… our team members leave. That said, we were also able to come up with mitigation plans. in case we have the unfortunate situation of losing some of our staff. “

A motion hearing in the case is set for 3 p.m. Friday before US District Judge Terrence G. Berg.

The legal challenge can have a steep legal slope to climb.

Following:The uplifting tale of the Detroit Renaissance COVID-19 epidemic “if you don’t have” 100% vaccination

Following:UP Department of Health Issues Advisory: Hospitals Under COVID, EMS in Northern Michigan

At the end of May, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission clarified that no law prevents an employer “from requiring that all employees physically entering the workplace be vaccinated against COVID-19. , as long as employers comply with the “reasonable accommodation provisions” under the Americans with Disabilities. Law and Title VII of the Civil Rights Law of 1964, as well as other EEO considerations.

This means that a person with a genuine medical reason for not getting the vaccine, such as an allergy to the components, or someone who has a religious objection to the vaccination may be entitled to an exemption under the law.

And in June, U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes ruled that the Houston Methodist Hospital – the first hospital in the United States to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for employees – was entitled to demand them.

“It’s not coercion. Methodists are trying to do their job of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus,” Hughes said in the ruling, according to Becker Hospital Examination. “It is a choice made to ensure the safety of staff, patients and their families.”

In a July legal opinion, the US Department of Justice further strengthened employers’ rights to vaccination warrants.

He found that public and private employers – as well as universities and school districts – have the power to demand that their workers be immunized.

Shortly after Henry Ford announced that he would force his workers to get COVID-19 vaccines or lose their jobs, Trinity Health, OSF HealthCare, Ascension Health, Michigan Medicine as well as the Veterans Health facilities. Administration followed suit.

The United States Food & Drug Administration fully authorized the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine on August 23, also triggering a tenure at Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health. Workers in these health systems have until October 18 to be fully immunized.

The warrants come as hospitals in Michigan – and across the country – feel increasing pressure from COVID-19-related hospitalizations combined with staff shortages.

“We are seeing very, very heavy traffic for our emergency services,” said Munkarah, who is named in the lawsuit against Henry Ford. “This is in addition to the fact that (…) we are facing a shortage of manpower, particularly in nursing, as well as in nursing assistants and other medical technical personnel.”

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 climbed in Michigan from 205 on June 11 to 1,284 on Tuesday – a 526% increase, as the highly transmissible delta strain of the virus continues to weigh on the state and nation.

About 5.4 million Michiganders aged 16 and older, or 66.2% of state residents aged 16 and older, received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, according to the state vaccine dashboard. This compares to 75% of adults nationwide who have taken at least one dose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Contact Kristen Shamus: kshamus@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus.

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