MGB workers lose round in court on vax
Judge rejects injunction, wants more info
Mass General Brigham employees suing the hospital system after being denied exemptions for a coronavirus vaccine mandate face unpaid leave today as a district court judge denied their motion for a preliminary injunction.
“It is an emergency situation. Mass General Brigham is a major health care provider in a major metropolitan area with a very strong interest, as I said, in providing the safest possible facility as well as creating a public perception of safety,” said U.S. District Court Chief Judge Dennis Saylor during a Wednesday morning hearing, siding with the hospital system.
More than 200 MGB workers are suing the nonprofit after being denied religious or medical exemptions to the vaccine mandate which was announced in June and requires proof of at least one shot by today. Mass General Brigham employs 80,000 people across the state.
Non-compliant employees now face unpaid leave and will be terminated on Nov. 5 if they still have not been vaccinated.
The quick-moving complaint, which was filed on Sunday and heard Wednesday, is missing several pieces of key information and evidence Saylor sa id he needs to hear. He set another more complete hearing for Nov. 2, just before the Nov. 5 deadline when the employees could be fired.
Attorney Ryan McLane, who is representing the employees, argued several points saying that loss of income will harm the plaintiffs, who are already adhering to other COVID safety measures aside from vaccination, and that Mass General Brigham didn’t have a proper interactive process when reviewing requests for exemptions.
He said some workers were denied an exemption without an explanation or opportunity to appeal the decision.
But attorney Kiley Belliveau for Mass General Brigham said the vaccine mandate is grounded in science and safety, the interactive process was sound and employees had more than enough time to get a vaccine.
“The public health benefits of the vaccination policy cannot reasonably be disputed … Mass General Brigham’s process for evaluating reasonable accommodation requests was thorough, thoughtful and robust,” Belliveau said.
Plaintiffs on the suit had asked MGB for exemptions for a wide range of reasons, including religious practices and medical concerns such as PTSD, pregnancy and adverse vaccine reactions.
McLane said he will present further evidence at the Nov. 2 hearing, “which was our intent from the start.”