Things are getting very confusing in Texas.
Shortly after governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning the vaccine mandates by any employer, which in turn was followed by several prominent Texas corporations - such as IBM, American Air, Southwest - saying they would snub the EO and back Biden on shots, we've reach a point where some employers side with the governor, others side with the president, meanwhile employees have no idea what they have to do (or not do), while yet another group of (former) employees that was fired for refusing to comply with the mandates is now trying to get their jobs back.
As Houston Public Media reports, more than 150 former employees of Houston Methodist Hospital, who either quit or were fired in June over a vaccine mandate policy will demand to be rehired after Gov. Abbott issued an executive order on Monday banning any entity in the state from implementing such mandates, according to a lawyer representing the former employees.
Attorney Jared Woodfill, who represents almost 200 healthcare workers in multiple lawsuits against Methodist, said executive order GA-40 makes the hospital’s policy illegal.
“Governor 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.”
Woodfill said he planned to send a formal request to the hospital on Tuesday in an attempt to reinstate the former employees.
As we reported at the time, Houston Methodist, which operates several hospitals in the area and has more than 25,000 employees, was the first hospital in the country to implement a vaccine mandate for workers in April sparking a fierce legal battle between hundreds of employees and the hospital. 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 Methodists' 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 "deeply disappointed" by Abbott’s order. He added that the order wouldn’t have an impact on Methodist since the hospital implemented its vaccine mandate months ago.
The hospital system is still reviewing Abbott’s order and its possible implications, but because its own rule went into effect months ago, 100% of its employees are compliant with the vaccine policy, according to Boom.
“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."
He added that “not only are our patients safe as a result, but we are able to remain healthy at work and be there for our community when it needs us the most."
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.
“We are grateful we mandated the vaccine early so the order will not have an immediate impact on us,” Marc Boom, the chief executive officer of Houston Methodist, wrote in an email. “But we are concerned for other Texas hospitals that may not be able to continue their mandates now with this executive order.”