Workers sue Tri-State hospitals over COVID-19 vaccine requirement

Workers sue Tri-State hospitals over COVID-19 vaccine requirement
Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 2:06 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Lawsuits seeking class action status were filed Monday against the major hospitals in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky over their new COVID-19 vaccine requirement for staff.

More than 27 employees so far from St. Elizabeth Healthcare agreed to be plaintiffs with over 100 at each health care system agreeing to join the legal fight against UC Health, Cincinnati Children’s, Christ, TriHealth, Mercy and St. Elizabeth.

The workers want courts in both Hamilton and Boone counties to declare the policy violates their rights “to protect their bodily integrity and to refuse unnecessary medical treatment,” the lawsuits show.

The employees are front-line nurses, nursing supervisors, floor managers, health care technicians and even security guards.

“When there was no vaccine, the workers had to go to work. They were heroes. Now that there is a vaccine, they have to get the vaccine or be fired. They are ‘zeroes’,” reads the lawsuit, filed on Monday by Deters Law.

Deters Law received and read nearly 10,000 emails from Tri-State healthcare workers who provided information used in these lawsuits, said Eric Deters, the law firm’s spokesman.

The suit alleges the workers’ rights were violated and accuses the hospital groups of “criminal coercion,” fraud, tortious interference, criminal and civil conspiracy and more.

It also accuses them of “engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity” by intentionally reporting “falsified data regarding COVID-19, including number of patients, deaths of patients, adverse effects of vaccines and other medical treatments and did so with the intent to deceive the public and to maintain a federal revenue stream from the United States and Ohio governments and its agencies. False reporting includes under reporting, minimizing and mischaracterizing data.”

The legal action seeks:

  • A declaratory judgment that each hospital group’s policy violates the law
  • A temporary injunction blocking them from terminating, demoting or taking any negative action against the workers for refusing to take the vaccine
  • Class action status
  • Jury trial
  • “Any other relief to which the Plaintiffs may show themselves entitled.”

Representatives for Cincinnati Children’s, Mercy Health and St. Elizabeth declined comment, saying they don’t discuss pending litigation.

FOX19 NOW is continuing to seeking comment from the other hospital groups, as well as the Greater Cincinnati Health Collaborative.

Earlier this month, the hospital groups and the Health Collaborative held a news conference to announce staff and volunteers were now required to get the vaccine, a mandate that comes as the COVID-19 delta variant surges nationally and locally.

The policy will go into effect Oct. 1 for some hospitals or sometime this fall for others.

The Ohio Hospital Association Board, Children’s Hospital Association, American Hospital Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Nurses Association all have urged it due to the delta variant.

The Mayo Clinic and dozens of other health care professional societies and organizations nationwide recently announced they would require staff to get the vaccine.

More lawsuits are coming against other health systems across Ohio and Kentucky - including a federal antitrust one that will be filed on Wednesday “against the above six for their collusion against healthcare workers. These forced vaccination mandates are ridiculous,” Deters said.

“This lawsuit is about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for healthcare workers, who one year ago were repeatedly referenced as essential heroes,” the lawsuit states.

“This lawsuit is about government control over the entire healthcare system and whether or not the government can avoid constitutional protections by acting through non-profit hospitals.”

Earlier this summer, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by more than100 employees at Houston Methodist Hospital over its vaccine policy, determining it broke no federal law.

“If a worker refuses an assignment, changed office, earlier start time, or other directive, he may be properly fired,” U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Hughes wrote in her June 12 order. “Every employment includes limits on the worker’s behavior in exchange for his remuneration. That is all part of the bargain.”

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