No Jab? No Job: Judge sets precedent for corporate vaccine mandates

Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, June 14, 2021

Corporate WATCH

Forced compliance on COVID vaccination isn’t going to come from government. Rather, it will be outsourced to private corporations and public institutions.

Consider: A federal judge in Houston on June 12 dismissed a lawsuit brought by 117 employees at Houston Methodist Hospital over its mandatory coronavirus vaccine requirement.

Houston Medical Hospital. / Video Image

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes reads more like a lecture than a judicial document:

“[Lead plaintiff Jennifer] Bridges says that she is being forced to be injected with the vaccine or be fired. This is not coercion. Methodist is trying to do their business of saving lives without giving them the COVID-19 virus,” the judge stated.

“Bridges can freely choose to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine; however, if she refuses, she will simply need to work somewhere else. If a worker refuses an assignment, changed office, earlier start time, or other directive, he may be properly fired. Every employment includes limits on the worker’s behavior in exchange for remuneration. That is all part of the bargain,” he continued.

The Houston Methodist suit is especially high-profile as it is the first major legal challenge to the idea that companies can make COVID jab inoculation an official term of employment. It would seem odd on the surface, then, that Judge Hughes would be assigned such a crucial case.

Hughes is notorious for being one of the most reversed judges in America. “U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes’ record when his rulings go up for review to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is an affirmance rate of 72%, according to Westlaw’s litigation analytics. The Houston judge, a Ronald Reagan appointee who has sat on the bench since 1985, has the second-lowest affirmance rate in his district among judges who have had at least 100 decisions reviewed by the 5th Circuit,” Reuters reported in February after Hughes was pulled off of a discrimination case.

“U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston has been rebuked, reversed and removed from cases in appellate rulings multiple times for making intemperate comments on the bench and issuing rulings with legal errors,” a February 3 article on the judge declared.

Big-box media outlets, naturally, were not quick to report this fact. NBC News’ account stated that the judge “addressed the plaintiffs’ arguments one-by-one,” implying a rigid legal analysis. “At times, Hughes seems to mock the plaintiffs, saying, for example, that their complaint was written ‘press-release style,’” the network noted. Yet it did not mention Hughes’s abysmal reversal record.

The same was true of many other prominent “news” sources. The Washington Post, NPR, CNN and USA Today in their main coverage all failed to report Hughes’ history while playing up the significance of the ruling.

And thus the notion of “get the jab or lose your job” advances. Precedents are made to appear in the hope that a “consensus” can eventually be claimed.

A June 11 New York Times article hints at how this may work:

Some companies are polling workers about their vaccination status, hoping that a high rate will make it more palatable to mandate vaccines, said Johnny Taylor, CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management. “Once we hit 70%, CEOs like me feel comfortable saying, you know what, the will of the employee population has spoken,” Taylor said, noting that exceptions would still need to be made for those with religious or health reasons.

Having it appear that the employees themselves are clamoring for mandatory vaccinations for the greater health of all is a far better look than bullying bosses cashiering the unvaxxed. In such a scenario, the powerful imagery of individual workers standing up against forced vaccination can be countered by corporate claims that the rest of its employees demand a “safe workplace,” with “safety” meaning a fully vaccinated office.

“She [Bridges] is refusing to accept inoculation that, in the hospital’s judgement, will make it safer for their workers and patients in Methodist’s care,” is how Judge Hughes put it in his ruling.

From The New York Times article:

Quartz, a New York-based media startup, reopened its offices this month with a vaccine requirement. It made the decision after surveying its 104 employees multiple times, said Zach Seward, the CEO.

“People were loud and clear that they wanted the confidence in knowing that everybody else is vaccinated,” Seward said.

Seward said he had not heard complaints, though he noted that was likely a “privilege of being a smaller company.”

Left unaddressed by this example is the harrowing notion that Americans’ employment rights can be overturned by the personal health opinions of their co-workers, provided the majority of them are all of the same mind on the matter.

Regardless of how the legal challenges play out, it is clear that job security is going to be a major weapon in the “carrot and the stick” approach to getting all Americans vaccinated.

“Whether through mandates or other methods, it may be that companies are uniquely positioned to encourage vaccination rates, picking up slack after a monthslong government-led campaign has plateaued,” Courthouse News Service reported June 12.

“Once the FDA does approve at least one of the vaccines currently authorized for emergency use, which could happen in September, health experts say more companies are likely to instate vaccine mandates,” CNS ominously added.

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