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Federal judge denies injunction for Geisinger employees against vaccination

A federal judge’s ruling this week in U.S. Middle District Court in Williamsport scuttled an attempt by unvaccinated Geisinger Medical Center employees to prevent from being terminated if they refuse to be tested twice a week for COVID-19.

District Chief Judge Matthew W. Brann denied a preliminary injunction request this week that would have stopped Geisinger officials from firing more than 100 employees at several locations. The employees sued their employer, many of whom over religious convictions.

“The plaintiff’s amended complaint (second) for Injunctive Relief is denied,” Brann wrote in his opinion. “In doing so, the Court denies the Plaintiff’s requests for a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, and a permanent injunction.”

More than 70 of the Geisinger employees who received religious exemptions to the health system’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate sought the injunction blocking their employer from requiring twice-weekly tests for the disease, according to the lawsuit.

Employees who are exempted from being vaccinated are required to be tested twice a week. If they do not get tested, they will be considered as voluntarily resigned, according to the health care system.

The lawsuit stated the hospital system was discriminatory.

As of a Nov. 1 deadline, 24,000

employees complied and 150 were fired at that time for not adhering to the mandate, according to Geisinger.

The lawsuit involved 13 Geisinger entities that employ the claimants including Geisinger Clinic, Geisinger Medical Center and Geisinger Health Plan.

Many of the workers had more than 15 years or more work experience.

The lawsuit claimed six counts including violations of the Nuremberg Code, which is infamously linked with the horrors of World War II and the use of prisoners in Nazi concentration camps for medical experimentation. The lawsuit also contended it was a violation of federal law and the U.S. Constitution.

Attorney Gregory Stapp represented the healthcare workers and, separately, was the lawyer representing parents who sued Montoursville Area School District over a mask-related issue.

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