Jennifer Bridges was among hundreds of employees at Houston Methodist Hospital who faced a hard decision: Get the COVID-19 vaccine by June 7 or face unpaid suspension, then get fired if you still refuse after going two weeks without a paycheck.
“So we get fired,” she tells One News Now, “for not being comfortable with taking the COVID vaccine."
All totaled, 178 employees out of 26,000 on the hospital payroll were suspended in June, and 117 joined a now-tossed federal lawsuit to fight the hospital’s requirement. An appeal is likely after a judge dismissed the suit.
According to a USA Today story, which credits Bridges for leading the hospital’s anti-vaccine fight, approximately 85% of employees complied with CEO Dr. Marc Bloom’s requirement of a COVID-19 shot.
Bloom first wooed Houston Methodist employees with a $500 “hope bonus” that expired in March. By April, however, employees were informed their jobs were on the line if they refused, the story says.
Bridges, who contacted One News Now to share her personal story, says it’s wrong to require people to get jabbed by a vaccine approved for emergency use.
“No one should force that upon somebody you know,” she says, “and then lose your job if you don't get it.”
One News Now reported in a June 2 story that Louisiana’s attorney general warned Louisiana State the university can’t legally demand vaccinations from faculty, staff, and students. That is because Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA stipulates the legal right to refuse it.
The state’s attorney general, Jeff Landry, cited the federal code in a letter to university officials, who reviewed the law and backed off.
In the lawsuit brought by employees, Judge Lynn Hughes claimed the federal laws does not apply to private employers and said the holdout employees at Houston Methodist are not victims of "coercion" and will "need to find work somewhere else," USA Today reported.
Two other federal agencies, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, both claim it is legal for employers to require a vaccination, the story said.
Bridges also insists the COVID-19 shot is “experimental phase,” a claim that Houston Methodist also disputes.
Bridges told USA Today for its story that she gets the flu vaccine every year as required by her now-former employer, where she had worked for six years. She drew the line at the hurried vaccine, she said, especially after she contracted the virus earlier this year.
A second registered nurse at Houston Methodist, Kathy Toft, told USA Today she quit rather than get the shot. She, too, came down with the virus last year.
"I’m not refusing this vaccine to be rebellious in any way,” Toft told the newspaper. “I’m refusing the vaccine because I’m genuinely worried about the reactions or even long-term effects of this vaccine.”