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Hospitals can fire unvaccinated workers, Louisiana Supreme Court rules

Thirty-nine employees filed a lawsuit against the hospitals challenging the mandate and requesting an injunction.

NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit on Friday by 39 healthcare workers challenging the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Chief Justice John L. Weimer ruled that Louisiana’s at-will employment laws allow employers to terminate employees for failing to comply with the vaccine mandate.

In August 2021, employees at University Health Shreveport, Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport and LSU Health St. Mary Medical Center were told that they would be required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 29. If those employees were not vaccinated by that time, they could face disciplinary action including mandatory use of leave time and termination. 

Thirty-nine employees filed a lawsuit against the hospitals challenging the mandate and requesting an injunction, arguing that the vaccine mandate violated a constitutional right to privacy and the state’s informed consent laws that allow adults to refuse medical or surgical treatment.

Weimer writes that employees also do not have a constitutional claim to privacy under the state’s constitution because the document only limits governmental actors, not private employers. Laws protecting a patient’s consent also do not apply because those laws apply to the relationship between a healthcare provider and the patient, and the employees did not allege that the hospitals were their healthcare provider.

“Instead, their cause of action is based on an employer-employee relationship. This court, therefore, finds Employees have not alleged a cause of action based on the Medical Consent Law,” Weimer wrote. 

The court dismissed the suit with prejudice and denied a request for a preliminary injunction.

    

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