More than a month after Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning COVID vaccine mandates in Texas, it seems to be more suggestion than order. UTMB is the latest organization to implement a vaccine mandate, claiming federal law requires it for medical workers. This comes months after Houston Methodist issued its own vaccine mandate, prompting a lawsuit from employees who were fired for refusing to comply.
Attorney Jared Woodfill, who brought the lawsuit against Methodist, says the governor's order is clear. "It states that folks cannot make the COVID vaccine a condition for employment, and yet we have employers like Methodist, UTMB, and others who have decided to thumb their nose at the governor's executive order," he tells KTRH.
With multiple lawsuits pending over the governor's order and President Biden's federal vaccine mandates, the issue will likely come to a head soon. "There is ultimately going to be a showdown at the United States Supreme Court to determine who has the authority to make these decisions...the state or the federal government," says Woodfill.
In the meantime, Woodfill and others, including the Texas GOP, are pushing for more action from Abbott. "One of the things I hope will happen is that we'll take the governor's executive order and make it into state law---that will codify it," he says. "So we are calling upon the governor to call a fourth special session to deal with this issue."
"That's what they did in Florida," he continues. "Florida put a law in place saying employers cannot make the vaccine a condition for employment, and that's what we need to do in Texas."
"And so we're hopeful that the governor will not just talk the talk, but walk the walk."