Minnesota healthcare workers ask judge to block COVID vaccine mandates

Nearly 200 Minnesota health care workers are suing their employers in federal court, asking a judge to block COVID-19 vaccine mandates from taking effect within days.

Most major Minnesota health systems have set October or November deadlines for employee vaccination. The workers who are suing accuse the health systems of not providing reasonable accommodation for those with disabilities or religious beliefs that prevent them from getting a shot.

"All the employees are asking for is to do business the exact same way they’ve been doing it for the last 18 months while caring for many COVID patients," said attorney Greg Erickson, who represents the healthcare workers.
None of the health care workers are named in the lawsuit, as Erickson says they fear retaliation for filing it.

Employment law attorneys who are not involved in the case say courts have thrown out similar lawsuits in other states.

"In general, employees really don’t have much of a leg to stand on in challenging vaccine mandates, and that’s why the suits to date have been unsuccessful," said Jill Hasday, professor of Employment Law at the University of Minnesota.

Several Minnesota health systems tell FOX 9 that more than 80 percent of their employees are vaccinated.

The Minnesota Hospital Association, which represents health systems, declined to comment on the details of the lawsuit.

"Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems have been working for many months to encourage Minnesotans to get vaccinated as the best path out of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been working on all fronts to ensure people understand that vaccines are safe and effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and death from COVID-19, and we have been strongly encouraging all staff members to receive a COVID-19 vaccine," said Lou Ann Olson, a spokeswoman for the organization.