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Attorney in Ochsner case: ‘Louisiana law is clear, employers can’t mandate vaccine’

OCHSNER Monroe Medical Center
OCHSNER Monroe Medical Center(KNOE)
Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 5:10 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Nine employees are suing Ochsner LSU Health Monroe Medical Center over its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. Their attorney says the mandate is illegal.

“What we are seeking is an order to prohibit Ochsner from conditioning employment on the acceptance of the vaccine,” said Jimmy Faircloth, an Alexandria-based attorney who is representing several of the plaintiffs in the case.

The lawsuit includes nine plaintiffs, eight from Ouachita Parish and one from Lincoln Parish. Faircloth believes the law is on their side.

“In 1989, the Louisiana Supreme Court says that particular provision in the {Louisiana} Constitution includes the affirmative right to refuse medical treatment,” explained Faircloth.

Despite similar lawsuits being thrown out in other states, Faircloth says this time is different because Louisiana gives people the option to decline medical treatment.

“An at-will employer cannot discharge people because they exercise a protected right,” Faircloth told KNOE.

Faircloth, who previously served as Executive Council to Bobby Jindal, compared choosing not to get the vaccine to deciding to have a baby.

“Do you think you can adopt a rule that said you can’t get pregnant while working here, asked Faircloth?” No.

Meanwhile, Oschner responded to the lawsuit in a statement authored by CEO Chuck Daigle.

“We firmly stand behind the science and data that demonstrates the safety and efficacy of a COVID vaccination,” the statement read. “We know that COVID-19 vaccination reduces transmission, severity of symptoms, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Faircloth asserted if Ochsner was concerned about protecting patients, there is a better way.

“What would work, though, is if you test people weekly,” said Faircloth. “Anybody that has the disease would be quarantined from the hospital and not allowed on the premises.”

In addition to requiring vaccination, Ochsner also announced a $200 a month surcharge for unvaccinated spouses on Ochsner’s insurance plan.

“It’s because they are trying to use that piece of information as leverage on this decision to vaccinate,” explained Faircloth.

Ochsner responded by saying, “90% of those hospitalized with COVID in our facilities have been unvaccinated. The cost of treating COVID-19, particularly for those requiring intensive care, is expensive.”

Ochsner also said employees and their spouses could choose a health insurance plan outside of Ochsner LSU Health.

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