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Group of Mass General Brigham employees sues over hospital vaccination mandate

A group of employees at Mass General Brigham, the state's largest hospital concern, today asked a federal judge to block a requirement that they get vaccinated against Covid-19, saying it violates not just their religious freedom but their rights under federal disabilities law.

In their suit and request for a preliminary injunction, the employees say they have nothing against shots, but object to what they claim is Mass General Brigham's "clear bad faith discrimination" against workers who seek to claim a religious or medical exemption against vaccinations.

The employees are represented by Ryan P. McLane, a Feeding Hills attorney who represented two UMass students in their failed bid to show up on campus without getting a shot. In that case, a judge in US District Court in Boston ruled UMass Boston and UMass Lowell had shown a "compelling" interest" in requiring shots for returning students, especially under a 1905 Supreme Court decision in a Cambridge case that allows governments to create vaccination mandates.

Unlike UMass, however, Mass General Brigham is a private entity, which McLane thinks gives his 200 employee clients a different path to victory, via the Americans with Disabilities Act, even aside from the First Amendment issue, which didn't work for one of his UMass clients:

First, what this case is not: this case is not a challenge to the defendant's vaccination policy. Every single plaintiff stands ready, willing, and able to take safety precautions in the workplace to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect those that they work with and serve. ... Not only are they willing, but plaintiffs also have and do take safety precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. The vast majority of these plaintiffs heroically fought on the front lines of the pandemic last year, working long hours under extremely stressful conditions to save lives and ensure that people received quality medical care. Their sincerity and commitment to battling COVID-19 should be without question. Each plaintiff has either a religious belief or a disability (a few have both) that conflicts with one safety policy: vaccination. These conflicts are protected under federal law. Thus, this case is not a challenge to the lawfulness of the policy imposed by the defendant, but rather an attempt to prevent discrimination and retaliation based on religion and disability.

What this case is: This case is about the defendant's decision to ignore federal law and instead apply their own set of rules when it comes to religious and disability accommodations, developing their own system-wide "position" around granting these accommodations instead of following Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The suit alleges the Mass General Brigham, which includes not just Mass. General and Brigham and Women's but suburban hospitals and clinics, claims that managers created an exemption system that made it near impossible for employees to actually submit exemption requests, in part by encouraging doctors to refuse requests to sign exemptions and by refusing to tell workers who sits on the hospital "exemptions committee."

Instead of interacting with plaintiffs, defendant sent an email to its supervisors providing talking points that these supervisors should use with employees who had their exemptions denied. ... Thus, instead of engaging with and advocating for their subordinate employees, supervisors were to push a narrative on them. This included encouraging them to get vaccinated, despite having already asserted that it would violate their religious conscience or cause them physical harm. Additionally, supervisors were encouraged to push the narrative that a thorough review took place, when in fact the review was not thorough. More telling, supervisors were to promote the narrative that the committee reviewed the requests, not in conformity with the law, but based upon defendant’s "position around granting exceptions."

The request for a preliminary injunction continues that the hospitals face no "undue hardship" by letting workers get religious exemptions, because, after all, they're health care workers:

Every plaintiff, since submitting their accommodation request, has been willing to abide by anyreasonable accommodation that would have little impact on defendant’s business operations and that would ensure the safety of others.

Complete memorandum for a temporary restraining order (3.3M PDF).

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Comments

How many times do the courts have to knock this nonsense down?

You would think that healthcare workers could do some simple research into the lengthy history of pandemic law in the US.

Believing the bollocks that your second cousin's husband's best friend put out on Facebook is not a disability.

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Voting closed 87

that if a plaintiff loses a lawsuit, or the lawsuit is thrown out before it goes to trial, they must be required to pay the defendant's legal costs and court fees, similar to what a defendant does when a plaintiff wins a case.

And for those of you muttering "unfair", this is merely leveling the playing field.

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And try again.

Also, for fun, consider what the term EQUITY means - all this would do would keep giant corporations from ever being sued for anything because they would run up the tab while continuing to buy out the justice system.

Read just about any book about people seeking redress for environmental injustice to expand your extremely limited view of reality.

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Voting closed 36

If, say, Bank of America were to somehow shaft you, and you were to go to the court system as a plaintiff to try to obtain justice, I don't think that shifting any of the risks of Bank of America's litigation costs onto you would make the playing field any more level.

In the event that the plaintiff's lawsuit is truly abusive, there are already remedies for that.

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BREAKING: More than 100 scientists, nuclear engineers,
and others will be fired due to a vaccine mandate at Los
Alamos National Laboratory

Wish these people would follow the “Science”!

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12,000 employees - we should value 100 of them as being exemplars for rejecting public health?

Another angle - if you need treatment for say, ebola, are you calling an engineer or nuclear scientist? If there was a melt down at Seabrook, you'd be fine with deploying the best public health scientists from MGH? Please, GTFOH.

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Many physicists never took biology (or failed it) and don't have the slightest clue about medical or public health science.

Not that it keeps them from mansplaining everything into "that's not science because I don't understand it" or "I understand all the science if I just make it into physics and ignore the stuff I don't get".

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The employees are represented by Ryan P. McLane, a Feeding Hills attorney who represented two UMass students in their failed bid to show up on campus without getting a shot.

I mean if I were trying this I would hire a lawyer who didn't already lose a case for the idiotic thing I'm trying to do.

Unlike UMass, however, Mass General Brigham is a private entity, which McLane thinks gives his 200 employee clients a different path to victory, via the Americans with Disabilities Act:

I'm extremely curious what their thought process was to make them think this is more likely to succeed because it's a private entity instead of a public one.

Just want to note that every nurse I know is extremely angry at their dipshit colleagues who refuse to get vaccinated.

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Go work in some idiotic hospital in Florida, where there are no mandates and you will find like-minded colleagues.

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Is a non-union hospital. At least the nurses are.

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You know what? I hope they haven't been near patients. I have 2 dear friends hospitalized right now with heart condition in their 70s and are fully vaxed. My husband died of hemorragic stroke in 2018 and was in ICU at BWH for almost a month. I will never forget how amazing his nurses and doctors were throughout the period. Any employee of our world reknown hospitals who doesn't want to get vax should get the hell out of the medical field immediately.

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Sweetie, they went through the entire pandemic caring for patients without a precious vaccine and reusing their PPE for weeks and in some places MONTHS at a time. What makes it any different now? They were told to go into rooms not knowing what the hell this thing was, risking their lives and their families lives. Now they’re told to fuck off? Not to mention this vaccine doesn’t stop you from spreading the virus nor does it inhibit you from contracting it. It shouldn’t matter to vaccinated people if their peers choose to remain unvaccinated. Vaccinated persons symptoms won’t be as bad while unvaccinated people choose to take the risk. I think it’s time people mind their own business and stop worrying about others (:

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Not to mention this vaccine doesn’t stop you from spreading the virus nor does it inhibit you from contracting it.

… by the same token, automobile brakes don’t stop you from getting into an accident nor do seatbelts prevent you from dying in an accident, and yet it’s entirely reasonable to require that cars driven on the public roads have both.

Either you’re being deliberately disingenuous, you have misunderstood the research, or you have been fed misinformation. No vaccine is 100% effective. That does not of course mean that vaccines “don’t work,” since “work” means “vastly reduce your chances of contracting the disease and the severity of the disease if you do catch it.

With regard to vaccinated people spreading the disease, many people failed to read past the headline to understand the numbers. Yes, a vaccinated infected person can still spread the disease, but first, the vaccinated person is much less likely to become infected in the first place, and second, the period of time during which a vaccinated infected person is shedding virus is much shorter than the period of time for an unvaccinated infected person.

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I think it’s time people mind their own business and stop worrying about others (:

When it's "their own business" and doesn't affect others, sure.

Are you also in favor of pharmacists who claim religious exemptions from dispensing legally prescribed medications?

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will *also* mind its own business, very conveniently.

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You don't know shit about public health, honey.

Stop while you are ahead. You already showed us your whole ass with your ignorant comments. Keep going and you will only look more stupid than we already know you to be.

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Bye, Felicias.

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I am confused by this because hospitals, including Mas General/BWH, have had requirements for all employees to have an annual flu shot for years now. There are people with conditions who legitimately can't be vaccinated (allergies, Guillain-Barré syndrome, etc.) The hospitals have procedures in place for these people to get exemptions for the required flu shot. I don't understand how any of this should be different for the Covid vaccine.

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At least at the Brigham, the flu shot was litigated by the nurses' union. In other words, reticence to get shots by staff is not novel to this coronavirus.

I might not support them, but this is an interesting case.

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Since every major religion has said it is OK, or has encouraged vaccinations - I'm curious what these religious exemptions are...

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Want to shut up an antivaxxer? Ask for specifics on religious exemptions. It gets REAL quiet...

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ALL of my doctors are at BWH.

ANYONE who enters must present a vax card or pre-screen to make it move a little quicker.

Why should patients be put in harms way because of a handful of abject morons who make their living from, yet dont believe in Science.

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BREAKING: More than 100 scientists, nuclear engineers,
and others will be fired due to a vaccine mandate at Los
Alamos National Laboratory

Wish these people would follow the “Science”!

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Voting closed 7

Being brilliant in nuclear physics does not mean you know anything about immunology.

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Another BREAKING copypasta disinformationist.

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I hold both a SCIENCE bachelor's and a Doctor of SCIENCE degree and I think I can sort out your fission issues right quick with my Epidemiology dissertation!

Nope?

Guess what: having gone to MIT meant being mansplained at by physicists who declared anything that couldn't be oversimplified (or anything they couldn't understand) as "not real science" - including chemistry and biology - I'm not surprised in the least that they would convince themselves that applying logic to bad information would yield good conclusions. You have a lot to learn, dear.

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