HOUSTON (NewsNation Now) — After dozens of employees walked out, a Houston hospital has suspended 178 unvaccinated workers without pay for at least two weeks.
“Unfortunately, a small number of individuals have decided not to put their patients first,” Houston Methodist CEO Marc Boom wrote in a memo to his employees. “We only wish them well and thank them for their past service to our community, and we must respect the decision they made.”
His note said 27 of the suspended employees were partially vaccinated. Overall, 24,947 employees are fully vaccinated, he wrote.
Employees walked out to protest the requirement Monday night as the hospital system’s deadline came closer. More than 100 staff members are now suing the hospital and have even created a GoFundMe page to raise money for their legal fees.
Boom said the hospital was “leading medicine” by being the first to mandate all employees get fully vaccinated in April.
Forced vaccinations are a controversial topic nationwide. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled last month U.S. companies can require employees to get vaccinated and offer incentives for them to do so, as long as there are reasonable exemptions made.
Some opponents of vaccine mandates argue it’s unethical to force someone to get a vaccine that is still under an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, and has not yet been granted full approval. Pfizer has applied for it, as has Moderna.
Some states have passed laws that forbid state and local governments from requiring the vaccine, but businesses have largely been left to make their own decisions.
More than 600 Houston Methodist employees were granted medical or religious exemptions or deferrals, according to Boom’s letter.