Health & Science

Former Houston Methodist employees demand their jobs back after Abbott’s vaccine mandate ban

Houston attorney Jared Woodfill, who currently represents almost 200 healthcare workers in multiple lawsuits against Methodist, said executive order GA-40 makes the hospital’s policy illegal.

Houston Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, on  July 24, 2019.
Macie Kelly / Houston Public Media
Houston Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, on July 24, 2019.

More than 150 former Houston Methodist employees who parted ways with the hospital in June over a vaccine mandate policy are demanding to be rehired, after Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning any entity in the state from implementing such mandates.

In a letter to the hospital, attorney Jared Woodfill — who currently represents almost 200 health care workers in multiple lawsuits against Methodist — said executive order GA-40 makes the hospital’s policy illegal.

“Gov. Abbott says very clearly, ‘whereas countless Texans fear losing their livelihoods because they object to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination for reasons of personal conscience,'” he said. “That applies to every plaintiff that I represent, and every plaintiff that Methodist hospital thought it was appropriate to fire.”

Read the letter to Methodist below:

Houston Methodist was the first hospital in the country to implement a vaccine mandate earlier this year, sparking a fierce legal battle between hundreds of employees and the hospital.

A federal judge threw out one challenge, saying the hospital’s rule was in accordance with federal guidelines. That case is now in the hands of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In June, 178 employees were suspended after declining to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Weeks later, 153 employees either resigned or were terminated.

According to Methodist’s numbers, 25 opted to get vaccinated and return to work.

In a statement, Methodist CEO Marc Boom didn’t touch on whether or not the former employees would be allowed back, but said he was disappointed by Abbott’s order.

“We are reviewing the order now and its possible implications,” the statement read. “We expect all of our employees and physicians to be vaccinated as we must continue doing everything possible to keep all our patients and each other as safe as possible until this pandemic is over.”

Boom said he hoped that other Texas hospitals, like Baylor College of Medicine and Memorial Hermann, would continue to implement their vaccine mandates despite the governor’s orders.