× Startups Business News Education Health Finance Technology Opinion Wealth Rankings Politics Leadership Sport Travels Careers Design Environment Energy Luxury Retail Lifestyle Automotives Photography International Press Release
×

May 2, 2021

A Houston-area nurse is the latest healthcare worker to claim she lost her job over refusing to get a Covid vaccine—an issue that could grow more common across industries as offices reopen and employers start mandating vaccinations.

 

Former Houston Methodist nurse Michelle Fuentes told KRIV-TV she was fired and escorted from the hospital after refusing to meet the hospital’s deadline to get vaccinated.

Fuentes said she was waiting for a “little bit more research to be done” on the vaccines and had turned in her two weeks’ notice after refusing to get one, but was terminated before her planned resignation date.

 

Jennifer Bridges, another nurse at Houston Methodist, which is the first hospital in the country to require all employees to be vaccinated, told KHOU-TV she plans to file a lawsuit against the hospital challenging the mandate.

Some smaller healthcare and nursing facilities have already had vaccine requirements in place.

Last month, Desiree Pelletier had a similar story, telling WPMT-TV she was being fired from her job at a Pennsylvania behavioral health center for refusing to get the vaccine.

In January, workers at a Rock County, Wisconsin-owned nursing home who refused a vaccine were laid off after being told vaccinations were “a requirement for all staff,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

An Arizona State-Rockefeller Foundation poll released Thursday found 63% of employers it surveyed planned to require proof of vaccination, with 42% saying vaccinations would be needed to return to a physical workplace and 35% saying disciplinary actions could be taken for those who refused a vaccine, including possible termination. The survey polled 957 workplaces in 24 industries—most of which were businesses with over 250 employees.

Legal experts generally say employees can be fired for refusing to get vaccinated. But there are caveats. They could file for a religious or medical exemption. But that becomes trickier for healthcare workers, since their employers may be able to prove not getting vaccinated would create an undue burden on the workplace. And there are also questions over whether employees can be fired for not taking a vaccine that hasn't technically been approved by the FDA, since all three vaccines being administered in the U.S. have only been granted emergency-use authorization. Top health officials, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, have assured Americans that coronavirus vaccines are safe and the only tool that will be able to end the pandemic for good. Data has also shown that Covid vaccines are safe and effective.

Vaccine hesitancy appears like it will be a big problem when it comes to ending the pandemic. Most Americans who haven’t been vaccinated yet don’t plan on doing so, according to the latest Household Pulse Survey from the Census Bureau. And vaccine hesitancy appears heavily skewed along partisan lines. Republicans and Trump voters have consistently polled among the groups with the highest levels of vaccine hesitancy.