St. Pat’s and Montana Hospitals Sue to Force COVID Vaccine on Workers

While other states see workers suing their employers over forced vaccinations, Montanan’s have been protected by HB-702, passed by Republicans in the most recent legislative session. HB-702 prohibits discrimination based on a persons vaccination status or possession of an immunity passport.

Employers, government agencies, and public accommodations cannot require vaccination status as a barrier to entry under HB-702. An exemption for nursing homes and long-term care facilities was carved out in the legislation.

Now, Providence, which operates St. Patrick’s Hospital, along with Montana Medical Association, Five Valleys Urology, and Western Montana Clinic have filed suit against Attorney General Austin Knudsen and Montana Commissioner of Labor and Industry Laurie Esau to challenge the law protecting their nurses, physicians and other staff from being force vaccinated.

The suit alleges that unvaccinated workers undermine the credibility of physicians when they urge their patients to become vaccinated and other workers at the hospital are not.

Montana DPHHS Hospital Capacity Report 10/7/2020 and 9/20/2021

The lawsuit comes at a time when some Montana hospitals are facing staff shortages due to existing policies that coerce, but do not mandate, vaccinations. Montana Governor Greg Gianforte recently called the National Guard to assist at Billings Clinic which has over 300 positions listed on their website that need to be filled.

Kim Parrish, a retired surgical technician at Community Medical Center shared that, “I have been receiving non-stop travel offers of $3,000-5,000 per week. All expenses paid. I left CMC two years ago and they called me last month to see if I wanted my job back. No thanks.”

Montana hospitals suit will make it more difficult to hire nurses, physicians, and other staff who decide not to take the COVID-19 vaccine due to existing immunity, low risk-factors, and religious exemptions. The lawsuit could exacerbate hospital staffing shortages by limiting the pool of eligible workers arbitrarily.

Read the suit below:

1-complaint

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