LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Get the COVID vaccine or potentially get fired. That’s what Lancaster General Health is saying to its staff. But there’s a lot of pushback from long-time employees who still aren’t sure they want it.
Hundreds of employees risk losing their jobs if they don’t comply.
About a month ago, Penn Medicine said it would require all health system employees to be fully vaccinated by September 1.
“Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health believes it is critical to take a lead in requiring employee vaccinations to protect our patients and staff and to set an example to the broader community as we work together to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” an LG Health spokesperson said.
“Every day I get numerous emails from LGH employees talking about their concerns and talking about how best to handle this,” said Eric Winter, an attorney with Prince Law Offices.
Winter is based in Berks County, advising many of LGH’s employees.
“Many are people that are trained in medicine, not just people that work at the hospital,” Winter said. “They are people that feel that there has not been enough testing and there has not been enough verification at this point.”
A petition with more than 11,500 signatures was submitted Wednesday to get Penn Medicine to reverse course.
“We’re hoping that LGH is going to take their legitimate concerns into account and work with them,” Winter said.
Winter says employees received notice they need to provide vaccination plans by July 1. Or if they’re asking for a medical or religious exemption, it has to be submitted by July 9.
“They have safety concerns based upon their own research, based upon their own knowledge. These are not uninformed people,” Winter said.
Recently a federal judge in Texas threw out a lawsuit filed by employees of a Houston hospital system over its requirement that all of its staff be vaccinated
Winter says there’s no plan for a lawsuit against LGH.
“While it is not binding precedent in Pennsylvania, it’s something that would certainly be considered in terms of any lawsuit that we would follow. Pennsylvania, similar to Texas is an employment-at-will state.”
That means employers have broad powers for terminating employees who don’t accept workplace conditions.
“At the time we announced this policy on May 19, 2021, approximately two-thirds of our staff had been fully vaccinated, and we expect that number to increase as employees either get the vaccine in the coming weeks or provide verification of already completed vaccination that they may have received elsewhere,” an LG Health spokesperson said. “We continue to focus our efforts on offering resources to employees with questions about vaccine safety and efficacy and this policy to ensure that everyone has the information they need to take this step to help protect our patients, each other, and the communities we serve.”