Fed. Oregon court denies TRO to block vaccination as condition of employment
The plaintiffs were unlikely to be successful in showing that their individual interests in remaining unvaccinated outweighed Oregon’s interest in public health and welfare in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, a U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon concluded by denying an application for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to block vaccination orders as a condition of employment. Johnson et al. vs. Brown et al., N Â° 3: 21-cv-1494-SI (D. Or. 18 October 2021).
On October 12, 2021, 42 plaintiffs, who are healthcare providers and staff, teachers, school staff and volunteers, as well as an employee of a state agency, filed a lawsuit to order Oregon’s requirements to be vaccinated as a condition of their employment. The plaintiffs filed a request for TRO.
By applying for an ORT, applicants had to prove that:
They were likely to succeed on the merits;
They risked irreparable harm;
The equities balance has tipped in their favor; and
The TRO is in the public interest.
At issue were Governor Kate Brown’s order ordering executive employees to be fully immunized, with exceptions for medical or religious reasons, and Oregon Health Authority temporary orders requiring full immunization of teachers and others. in schools and health care providers, unless they have provided documentation of a medical or religious exception. All disputed vaccine orders allow for medical and religious accommodations.
Judge Simon rejected the complainants’ argument that the requirement for a vaccine was a forced medical experiment in violation of the Nuremberg Code. The court stressed that the plaintiffs were free to choose to be vaccinated and rejected the plaintiffs’ attempt to analogize their situation to that of concentration camp victims who were unwittingly subjected to medical experiments.
The court also rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that their preference not to receive a vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration was a fundamental right under the due process clause. The court concluded that vaccine prescriptions are rationally linked to the state’s interest in slowing the spread of COVID-19, protecting children, teachers and patients, and preserving healthcare resources. The court also rejected the plaintiffs’ arguments under the Fourteenth Amendment. Finally, Justice Simon ruled that the state’s requirements did not illegally conflict with federal informed consent guidelines.
After Judge Simon issued his order, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued on October 25, 2021, updated guidelines for religious accommodation. Employers who receive requests for religious accommodations for vaccine needs should be sure to consult a lawyer or carefully review the new EEOC guidelines. The guidelines deal with determining the sincerity of religious beliefs, the availability of alternative accommodation, whether the burden of providing accommodation constitutes undue hardship, the difficulty of accommodating multiple employees who request housing, and the right of employers to choose what effective housing to offer and to re-evaluate accommodations due to changed circumstances.
Jackson Lewis PC Â© 2021Revue nationale de droit, volume XI, number 307