A hospital in Indiana fired eight employees when they refused to take the
flu shot. Due to the increased risks of influenza, the hospital began
to require the vaccine for its employees, despite concerns for employee
and individual rights.
This has been a sad event and confusing for some. For example, Ethel Hoover
only called in sick 4 or 5 times during her 22 years career as a nurse.
Surely, she wouldn't be required to. She was. She refused. She was
fired. She said, "This is my body. I have a right to refuse the flu
vaccine." She even filed two medical exemptions, a religious exemption
and two appeals. However, they were all denied. Fellow nurses were saddened
and "horrified" over Hoover's firing, calling her their
According to the hospital, they implemented the new mandate over patient
safety concerns and based their decision on recommendations from the American
Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, and the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention. Apparently, 1,300 employees did not
comply with the new mandate, but only but only eight have been fired to date.
Hoover's attorney argues that Hoover had the right to refuse to take
the shot under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, because it prohibits
religious discrimination of employees. The lawyer said, "If your
personal beliefs are religious in nature, then they are a protected belief."
Some health professionals believe the hospital did the right thing, as
it protected the community. The medical malpractice and
personal injury defense lawyers for the hospital probably agreed, as it may have protected
the hopsital from liability if someone claimed they got sick due to a
nurse who refused to take the shot.
The courts will decide whether the Constitutional protection for the individual
right to choose overrides an employee's desires and the benefits to
society in this case. Whether the case was in Missouri, Indiana, or Kansas,
this could have Constituional implications for all.