Health care workers challenge Texas hospital’s denial of vaccine religious exemptions

Three employees of Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston are fighting the hospital’s denial of their vaccine religious exemption requests.

Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter to the hospital on behalf of the three health care workers after it denied the employees’ requests not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for religious reasons.

The three employees submitted religious exemption requests in a timely manner that all were denied without explanation, the 12-page complaint states. The employees were told by Texas Children’s that there was no way to appeal the denial and if they didn’t provide proof of receiving COVID-19 shots by end of the day Tuesday of this week, they would be fired.

The health care workers’ religious beliefs prevent them from taking drugs that are derived from or associated with aborted fetal cell lines. “All three of the currently available COVID injections are produced by, derived from, manufactured with, tested on, developed with, or otherwise connected to or associated with aborted fetal cell lines,” Liberty Counsel states.

On Aug. 11, the hospital’s chief human resources officer sent an email to all employees outlining the hospitals mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. All employees were required to receive both doses by Sept. 21. However, as required by federal law, the email states that employees with a medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief preventing them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine should apply for an exemption by filling out a form electronically. However, once employees filled out the forms, their requests were denied without explanation, according to Liberty Counsel.

The hospital’s denial of their exemption request was “both intentionally vague and dishonest,” Liberty Counsel argues, because it didn’t identify or explain what information employees should supply in order to receive a reversal of the hospital’s’ rejection.

A human resources response for one employee’s denial, according to Liberty Counsel, said: “Your personal belief statement which you submitted before September 1, 2021, was reviewed and a determination was made. I can assure you that Texas Children’s followed a thoughtful and consistent process. Human Resources is communicating the results of those decisions to individual employees based on the personal belief statement that you submitted. We are not providing additional details regarding those decisions and apologize for any frustration that may cause you.”

This is illegal, Liberty Counsel argues. Its founder and chairman, Mat Staver, said, “Texas Children’s Hospital has no legal authority to deny any employee’s sincerely held religious belief regarding a COVID injection. Texas and federal law dictates that employees at Texas Children’s Hospital must have the fundamental right to determine what medical care to accept and refuse. The law also protects the rights of all health care workers to abstain from participation in abortion. In addition, the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act requires employers to accommodate employees’ sincere religious beliefs.”

Texas Children’s says the requirement applies to all employees whether they are full-time, part-time, medical staff, per diem or contractors.

Hospital president and CEO Mark A. Wallace said the requirement would protect the health of the hospital’s team members, patients, and community. “As one of the nation’s largest and top-rated children’s hospitals, it is our responsibility to take a stand and protect those who place their trust in us, many of whom are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine. We look forward to the FDA fully authorizing the COVID-19 vaccines in the near future.”

The hospital also is participating in Pfizer’s phase II/III trials with children. The hospital said in a newss release, “the current surge [of the coronavirus] underscores the importance of completing these trials and safely vaccinating those under 12 as soon as possible. Emergency Use Authorization for children ages 5 to 11-years-old is also anticipated in the coming weeks following the FDA’s review of the trial data.”

This article was originally posted on Health care workers challenge Texas hospital’s denial of vaccine religious exemptions

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