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Workers sue over mandatory COVID-19 vaccination

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Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Keenan reports the latest on vaccination mandates and bans on vaccination proof.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: Well, employees aren't happy about being forced to get vaccinated against coronavirus, and they are using the courts to fight against their employers. Yahoo Finance's Alexis Keenan is here with those details. Hi, Alexis.

ALEXIS KEENAN: Hi, Kristin. So this is a federal case in Texas. A federal judge there dismissed a case that was brought by 117 hospital workers who were suspended without pay by the Houston Methodist Hospital System. That was over their refusal to comply with a vaccine requirement. The employer said you can't come to work unless you're vaccinated by a certain date.

Now, these workers said that they really shouldn't be forced to choose between being injected with a novel drug and their job. They said that without full FDA approval, it's really too soon, they said, to mandate that employees get the vaccine. Now, this is important because this case is really the first time that some of the theories that plaintiffs across the country have been putting forward in lawsuits that have been filed-- it's really tested for the first time, this employer idea that they can mandate vaccination.

So one theory of the plaintiffs in particular of interest is it involves a law that requires the US Secretary of Health to allow Americans to have the option between either refusing or accepting any medical product that is limited to emergency use authorization. And of course, that's exactly where the vaccines stand right now under that EUA approval. Now, the question there is whether the law could extend then to private companies.

Now, while this Texas court said no, it cannot, its ruling is not really binding on other jurisdictions. So there's still room for it to be tested, but it is an uphill battle. It could influence the outcome of these other cases. There are similar cases pending in California, North Carolina, and New Mexico.

Now, I want to show you something to keep in mind that it's really the state legislature that's going to control things here, not necessarily the courts, no matter how many cases are filed. Now, the law in each state and each locality, that's what's going to rule. So I'm going to show you some images here that show the breakdown of private businesses in states that have changed the way that they're going to apply vaccine mandates.

Now, in Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Montana, and Texas, those are the states where private businesses cannot require customers to prove vaccination. Then we drop down to Montana. Now, that's really a special state. It's the only one in the country where private businesses cannot require either customers or employees to prove vaccination. Now, really, the way that works is that workers cannot be forced to reveal their status in order to access certain buildings or premises. So if they can't go to work-- if they can't go onto those premises, of course, then that prohibition would stand.

Now, another one that's very interesting and has passed a law-- it regards universities, and that's Utah. Utah is the only state in the country where universities are banned from either requiring vaccination or proof of vaccination. So the landscape is really changing here, and there's a lot of courts still to test some of these theories that plaintiffs are putting forward.

KRISTIN MYERS: Absolutely. And I can only imagine how many more of these lawsuits that we will definitely be hearing about in the future as more and more employers are making some of those requirements of their employees. Thanks so much, Yahoo Finance's Alexis Keenan, for the details on that story.