A group of 73 Geisinger employees who have received religious exemptions from the healthcare system’s mandate over the COVID-19 vaccine are seeking a federal injunction preventing their employer from requiring bi-weekly testing for the disease.
The employees say in their class action lawsuit filed on Monday that if they reject three PCR or antigen tests, they would be fired on November 16.
Testing began Tuesday, the trial says.
Their attorney, Gregory Stapp, is asking the Pennsylvania US Intermediate District Court for an injunction no later than 5 p.m. Monday.
Stapp asks the court to block the test requirement and declare it discriminatory, to prevent the dismissal of the plaintiffs and to allow time to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Geisinger, through a company spokesperson, declined to comment on the court case. He is represented by the law firm Harrisburg, Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney.
U.S. Chief Justice Matthew Brann is presiding over the case. A conference call with the lawyers handling the case is scheduled for November 15 at 11 a.m.
The healthcare system requires COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees, some with medical or religious exemptions. A Nov. 1 deadline has passed with 24,000 employees who complied and 150 were fired at that time for failing to meet the mandate, according to Geisinger.
The lawsuit targets 13 Geisinger entities that employ the plaintiffs, including the Geisinger Clinic, the Geisinger Medical Center and the Geisinger Health Plan.
If some employees have 1 or 2 years of experience, including one with only 2 months, many others are 15 years or more, including one with 38 years, according to the legal file.
The trial claims six counts, including violations of the Nuremberg Code, federal law and the US Constitution.
“Geisinger applies this mandate regardless of the sincere religious beliefs of these employees,” says the lawsuit.
According to lawsuit, employees claim Geisinger’s religious exemption terms violate religious freedom, the right to privacy and medical autonomy, discriminate on the basis of religion and equal protection, conspire against their civil rights and with the threat of dismissal, constitute reprisals.
The Roe v. Wade of the United States Supreme Court protecting a woman’s right to abortion is cited among other case law, particularly with regard to medical choice.
The lawsuit says Geisinger did not provide any guidance on the conditions necessary to receive a religious exemption. He says that since company-approved test kits are only approved in an emergency, complainants have the legal right to refuse their use.
It also questions the performance and accuracy of test kits and claims that potentially harmful chemicals like ethylene oxide create cancer risk.
In making these claims, the lawsuit cites the test kits’ own legal warnings, a false positive study, and federal government guidance on potential harm from the aforementioned chemical.
Further, the plaintiffs claim that Geisinger is discriminating by requiring unvaccinated employees to use up their own paid time off in quarantine, which is automatically 14 days for them. Vaccinated employees receive company-paid leave and do not have to quarantine a full 14 days under certain conditions, the lawsuit says.
“The plaintiffs therefore believe and assert that the defendants treat unvaccinated employees with a sincere religious belief that does not allow them to be injected with any of the three vaccines approved by the EUA any differently from vaccinated employees,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit says there is no “credible evidence to demonstrate the asymptomatic spread” of COVID-19, citing a study by Chinese researchers and comments from a disease expert from the World Health Organization and the Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Diseases.