More than 180 health workers from hospitals across Minnesota are suing their employers over COVID vaccine mandates.
The group of unnamed plaintiffs filed a lawsuit on Monday in U.S. District Court against about 24 health institutions and federal health officials, including the Mayo Clinic, Fairview Health Services, University of Minnesota Physicians, and Regions Hospital.
The health workers are requesting an injunction against the vaccine mandates at their facilities, saying the mandates violate their religious freedom and other laws, both state and federal.
“Plaintiffs’ employers are placing a substantial burden on their employees not to practice their religious-based objection to the COVID-19 vaccination or live under the threat of having their religious exemption withdrawn at any time,” the lawsuit reads.
Among the concerned health care workers, which includes physicians, nurses, technologists, and pharmacists, are people with religious reservations, pregnant women, and young, healthy people who think “it’s a coin flip whether they’re in worse shape with COVID or the vaccine,” one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs told the Star-Tribune.
“If people thought health care was being delayed from COVID, that’s like a soft summer rain compared to what’s going to happen when you fire all these people,” said the attorney, Gregory Erickson.
The health workers have chosen to remain anonymous in the lawsuit due to “pressure on getting vaccinated,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit adds that “the same ‘front line’ health care workers hailed as heroes by the media for treating patients before vaccines were available, and even for months after the vaccines became available, including the Plaintiff employees herein, are now vilified by the media as pariahs who must be set apart from society until they are shamed, threatened, or now mandated into vaccinating.”
The explosion of vaccine mandates this month has prompted fierce pushback among some health workers and others in other states as well.
In Massachusetts, a police union said Friday that dozens of state troopers have resigned over the state’s vaccine mandate for state employees. The union filed a lawsuit against the mandate, saying it would cause “irreparable harm” to officers.
In New York, health workers have held protests demanding that their choice on whether to take the vaccine be respected. New York’s vaccine mandate for all health workers went into effect on Monday.
“Holding firm on the vaccine mandate for health care workers is simply the right thing to do to protect our vulnerable family members and loved ones from COVID-19,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul.
Earlier this month, President Biden announced that all federal workers must receive a coronavirus vaccine or face disciplinary action. The president also said that companies with 100 or more employees must require all workers to get vaccinated or mandate that they get tested once a week.
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said.