Although Methodist Health System (MHS) granted a 4th employee religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination mandate after receiving Liberty Counsel’s demand letter, the Dallas medical center wasn’t pleased.
“Their law firm wrote us a letter telling us how wrong we are, but actions speak louder than words, and what it tells me is that they tacitly acknowledge that their denials were against the law and that they needed to change in order to avoid the legal liability that was certain at that point,” said Horatio Mihet, chief litigation counsel with Liberty Counsel.
As previously reported by Dallas Express, four employees represented by Liberty Counsel were denied after submitting religious exemptions based on their beliefs that COVID-19 vaccine injections are allegedly produced by, derived from, manufactured with, tested on, developed with, or otherwise connected to or associated with aborted fetal cell lines.
But after receiving Liberty Counsel’s demand letter, MHS immediately granted three of the four employees exemption requests.
“The fourth exemption was also eventually granted, and I can tell you that dozens of other exemptions were granted thereafter,” Mihet told Dallas Express. “I received so many emails, text messages, and Facebook messages from people thanking us because Methodist had gone back and changed or reversed the denials of their exemptions as well.”
Although religious denominations have not spoken publicly against COVID-19 inoculation, the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for staff who object to employment duties because of religious ideology.
“What Methodist did after receiving our letter was to write to its employees and extend the exemption application deadline by another ten days,” Mihet said in an interview. “It was previously September 10th, and they extended it to September 20th and provided many more additional employees the chance to come back and to apply for an exemption, perhaps recognizing the fact that because of its practice of just denying these out of hand, they were discouraging people from even applying.”
Under Texas law, employees have the right to determine what medical care to accept and refuse. It also protects the rights of all health care workers to abstain from participation in abortion, while the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act requires employers to accommodate employees’ sincere religious beliefs.
“Although that law was initially conceived and intended to apply more in a situation where the nurse doesn’t want to be in the abortion room, I think there may be some applications here where our clients believe that taking these vaccines would be an endorsement of the elective abortions that took place when these fetal cell lines were taken and then ultimately used to test and develop these vaccines,” Mihet said.
Before Liberty Counsel intervened, MHS had reportedly created an MHS Exemption Committee that was denying any and all requests for religious exceptions.
“There’s no sense in applying if 100% of the applications are being denied,” Mihet added. “So, after the news became public, Methodist had changed course and provided this opportunity for others to either make an application for the first time or to resubmit an application that had been previously denied. I can sit here and tell you that I am not aware of a single religious exemption application that remains denied at Methodist Dallas as of today.”