Texas Children’s Hospital has been alerted that its practice of denying employee requests for religious exemptions to receiving the COVID-19 vaccination is unlawful.
Liberty Counsel sent a demand to hospital executives on behalf of three health care workers this week questioning the denials.
“[The denials] indicate that Texas Children’s Hospital has an illegal policy and practice of denying requests, indiscriminately and en masse without going through the reasonable accommodation process that federal and Texas laws require,” said Horatio Mihet, chief litigation counsel with Liberty Counsel. “That’s especially true here where Texas Children’s Hospital is not providing any reason for the denials, which is clearly an attempt by them to mask the illegal nature of their process and of their indiscriminate denials.”
The employees were allegedly told by Texas Children’s Hospital management that there is no appeal process, and that they must provide evidence of their COVID-19 shots before 5:00 p.m. Sept. 21 or face employment termination.
“It was a blanket denial that was the same for everyone,” Mihet told Dallas Express. “It was not individualized. When the employees wrote back and requested the reasons for the denial, the response by the children’s hospital was that they were not going to tell them the reason for the denial.”
About a dozen other health care workers have also come forward alleging that they, too, have been denied a religious exemption to COVID vaccination by Texas Children’s Hospital despite submitting lengthy requests, according to Mihet.
“Some of these exemption requests were more than 20 pages long making a very, very strong case,” he said. “They supported it with documented proof to show that all three vaccines were either developed, tested, or produced using fetal cell lines from aborted children. Several of them even provided clergy letters substantiating that their beliefs are sincere and that, as a matter of religious conviction, they could not have anything to do with vaccines that have their genesis in abortion.”
The employees further allege that they are being treated like second class citizens who are on their way out since submitting their request for religious exemption.
“They are getting the cold shoulder and being looked at as replaceable and dispensable,” Mihet said. “They’re being treated like zeros. These were yesterday’s heroes and today’s zeroes because of their religious convictions.”
Employees being denied religious exemptions include healthcare workers, such as nurses, physicians, doctors and orderlies.
“I have no doubt that if this case were to go to litigation and we were to do discovery, depositions and documents requests that we will easily be able to establish that these indiscriminate mass denials are not in compliance with the law,” Mihet said. “Liberty Counsel has already made pro bono services available to anyone who is ultimately fired, terminated or discriminated against in any way because of their religious refusal to accept a COVID vaccine.”
Federal law, under Title VII, requires that whenever an employer becomes aware that an employee has a religious objection to a work requirement, the employer has a legal obligation to engage in an interactive process with the employee to determine the sincerity of the employee’s religious beliefs, and to determine the ability of the employer to accommodate those beliefs without incurring an undue burden.
“What Texas Children’s has done here is far removed from the interactive process that is required by Title VII,” Mihet said. “They’ve received all of these requests in a timely-submitted and legally-sufficient manner and instead of engaging in the Title VII process, they’ve essentially taken a rubber stamp and stamped them all with a denial. That’s against the law.”
Liberty Counsel has yet to receive a response to their demand letter from officials at the hospital.
“We are going to bring a series of both individual and class action lawsuits against Texas Children’s Hospital and we will hold this hospital legally accountable for its brazen violation of the law,” Mihet added. “We don’t want to sue Children’s Hospital and would like them to continue their good work of saving the lives of children and us continuing our good work elsewhere against other lawbreakers, but we absolutely will sue them if they stand by this illegal practice.”
In July, Liberty Counsel was awarded a million-dollar settlement in Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry litigation against the state of California over COVID-19 church restrictions. The state agreed to pay Liberty Counsel an accumulated $1.35 million in legal fees and costs in order to settle the litigation.
“Texas Children’s Hospital has no legal authority to deny any employees’ sincerely held religious belief regarding a COVID injection,” said Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Texas and federal law dictate that employees at Texas Children’s Hospital must have the fundamental right to determine what medical care to accept and refuse. The law also protects the rights of all health care workers to abstain from participation in abortion. In addition, the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act requires employers to accommodate employees’ sincere religious beliefs.”
Texas Children’s Hospital is not the first hospital that has received a demand letter from Liberty Counsel.
As previously reported, Methodist Health System (MHS) in Dallas wasted no time in accepting previously denied religious exemptions from COVID-19 inoculation after receiving Liberty Counsel’s demand letter on behalf of four named employees and others.