Yesterday, I read two more decisions (here and here) from federal judges evaluating mandatory vaccination policies. Both involved attempts by plaintiffs to obtain a preliminary injunction to avoid getting the jab. One involved a student at a public university; the other involved many healthcare workers at a local hospital. Neither was successful — not even close.
Here are nine reasons the lawsuits failed and why future efforts will likely be just as unsuccessful.
- Although individuals have rights to informed consent and to refuse unwanted medical treatment, those rights are not absolute. Private sector employees have no constitutional rights (unless the employer is a state actor).
- Courts generally don’t second guess employers’ safety protocols, especially those grounded in medical and scientific evidence.
- Keeping the most people safe, given the severity and number of cases and deaths resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., the public interest), outweighs individual liberty interests.
- Other states and countries have enacted similar mandatory vaccine policies, which help legitimize ones that employers adopt. Indeed, there is a public health rationale via the ongoing COVID-19 disease that upholds compulsory vaccination policies.
- There is no constitutional right to work. Employees can choose to comply with a condition of employment (e.g., a dress code, no smoking, mandatory vaccinations) or deal with the potential consequences of that choice.
- Suspicions about the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines cannot override the law, which recognizes the employer’s right to set the terms and conditions of employment.
- Most employment is at-will. If an individual believes that his liberties are that important, he can exercise his right to seek other employment.
- Money compensates those who endure wrongful discharge. Thus, an employee seeking an injunction can’t demonstrate irreparable harm, a prerequisite for an injunction.
- Forcing employers to create exceptions effectively requires them to adopt new policies and procedures to accommodate those who refuse the vaccine and could create an undue hardship.