A protester holds a sign at a Pennsylvania rally in support of Penn Medicine workers. (Courtesy of Pennsylvania Informed Consent Advocates Inc.)
The Epoch Times - BY BETH BRELJE November 2, 2021
Have you had your COVID-19 vaccination? This has become a loaded question with implications beyond health. A Pennsylvania lawsuit argues that receiving or declining a vaccine has become a political act, and when employers compel employees to get vaccinated, they are forcing employees to engage in political speech, a violation of the First Amendment, the freedom of speech.
The suit was filed in October in federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by attorney Bruce L. Castor, Jr. of the law firm Van Der Veen, Hartshorn & Levin, on behalf of his clients Pennsylvania Informed Consent Advocates Inc., which is a recently organized group of employees of the University of Pennsylvania Health System (Penn Medicine), one of the largest employers in Pennsylvania.
The suit names Penn Medicine as a defendant along with U.S. Secretary of Labor Scott Ketcham and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra.
Castor is a well-known attorney, having served briefly as acting Pennsylvania attorney general. He was the lead defense attorney in President Donald Trump’s 2021 impeachment trial, and he was Montgomery County District Attorney in 2005 when comedian Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case came to light there.
Castor argues that by requiring workers across the United States to disclose their vaccination status, Ketcham and Becerra are forcing workers to engage in un-sought-out and individually undesirable political speech in violation of the First Amendment. And by choosing to abide by federal vaccine mandates, Penn Medicine has become an agent of the federal government, likewise violating the First Amendment.
“Employers think they are holding the upper hand because they have unlimited resources for legal fees and employees don’t,” Castor told The Epoch Times in a phone interview. “But since they all have the same issue, we formed a corporation, so they became a legal person—an entity that can bring a suit. It levels the playing field.”
Pennsylvania Informed Consent Advocates Inc. is made up of between 100 and 200 Penn Medicine employees who pool their money for legal fees.
“Disclosing one’s status as not vaccinated against COVID-19 has become politicized in such a way that the expressing of one’s opposition has acquired a political meaning: bringing public derision down upon the individual or, in fewer instances, garnering public acclaim for the individual, largely depending on the political beliefs of the public toward coerced governmental action against its citizens,” the court papers say. “Because of its intensely toxic political nature, disclosing one’s COVID-19 vaccination status holds the intent, weight, and social effect of partisan political speech, and should be treated as such.”
When Penn Medicine asks for proof of vaccination as a pre-requisite for further employment, it outs some employees as unvaccinated, which can publicly stigmatize them by causing some to equate their position with political “rightwing extremists,” or other stereotypes, even if the employee’s objection is religious or due to medical risk, the suit argues.
“The mandate seeks to require Plaintiff members to make a political statement against their will, and potentially against their health and well-being, and subjecting them to public ridicule and contempt,” court papers say.
“We’re not saying there is not a competing interest that the government has in keeping people safe,” Castor said. “We’re saying there has to be a balance of that and individual freedoms for the people who are choosing not to be vaccinated.”
“You can’t compel people to state what their vaccination status is because it has become political,” Castor said. “Eventually you will get a court high enough to say vaccine mandates are prohibited absent some reasonable effort to accommodate individual liberties. And deciding what individual liberties are protected will be the question. It will be something like wearing masks or working from home.”
In May, all Penn Medicine and Lancaster General Hospital employees were informed by email that unless they receive the COVID-19 vaccine, they would lose their job in three months.
Additionally, some students had a contract with the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences that had them start working for Lancaster General Hospital in high school, move on to nursing school, and then after graduating; owe Lancaster General Hospital (a Penn Medicine property) one year of employment as a registered nurse, for which they receive a 75 percent tuition break. The agreement says that if for any reason they are terminated, they must pay the tuition back. These young employees had to choose between taking the vaccine or repaying that 75 percent tuition reimbursement in three months.
“You can’t imagine the range of regulations that companies are putting on employees,” Castor said.
The suit asks the court to make Penn Medicine stop using proof of vaccination as a condition for employment and prevent Becerra and Ketcham from enforcing the mandate as long as they are in violation of the first (free speech) and fourteenth (equal protection of the law) amendments. It also asks for Penn Medicine to give employees their jobs back and provide compensatory damages for their losses and legal fees.
“Penn Medicine is put at great risk,” Castor said. “There is a huge number of people with highly paid jobs. Penn Medicine would be liable for all that back pay, benefits, punitive damages, attorneys fees—it adds up to big money.” And if the court agrees with employees, similar cases could spread across the country. It would affect employers differently, based on what level of reasonableness they act on, Castor said. Employers who change union contracts, go straight to termination, or make ridiculous rules would not fare as well as those that provide both protection to vaccinated employees and reasonable accommodations to those who choose not to get vaccinated.
“The government has handled this exactly backward. It should have encouraged people through tax incentives for those who get vaccinated,” Castor said. “It should not have been punishments; it should have been sweeteners if they want to get vaccinated, and there should have been an accommodation for those who don’t want to be vaccinated.”
By telling workers they must put something in their body that they don’t want, Castor said, the government causes an immediate, visceral, negative reaction.
“They say, how dare the government put my family at risk by threatening my job as we go into winter.”
“Where are all the pro-choice advocates who use the mantra, ‘my body my choice’? It’s very strange to me.”
Penn Medicine, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to requests for comment on this story.
Beth BreljeREPORTERFollowBeth Brelje is an investigative journalist covering Pennsylvania politics, courts, and the commonwealth’s most interesting and sometimes hidden news.
White House Expands Vaccine Mandate To Cover 80 Million Workers.
ZeroHedge-BY TYLER DURDEN -THU, NOV 04, 2021
The White House has just released new policies requiring all companies - big and small - to coerce their workers into accepting the vaccine, or face termination, as the Biden Administration continues to up the pressure on all working Americans to get vaccinated before Jan. 4.
According to Axios, President Biden is planning to announce Thursday that employers with more than 100 workers on their payroll must guarantee that their workers are fully vaccinated, or tested weekly, by Jan. 4, 2022. If not, they could face federal fines starting at tens of thousands of dollars per offense.
What's more, healthcare workers will face even tougher restrictions which will effectively require every healthcare worker in the country to be vaccinated, or lose their job, despite the fact that millions of healthcare workers have already been infected with the virus by natural means.
To be sure, managing weekly testing programs for a minority of corporate employees will be extremely costly, and the ramifications of this new policy will essentially force employees for the biggest companies in the US to accept the vaccine.
Per Axios, the new rules - formally known as the COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard - will be enforced by OSHA. They will affect roughly two-thirds of America's workforce or roughly 80MM people. Many businesses and hospitals have already started to enforce vaccine mandates, and while Axios reports that they have seen "minimal" noncompliance, that doesn't exactly square with the fact that less than 60% of the American population is fully vaccinated.
While corporations might be able to absorb some of these costs, small businesses will likely be left with some difficult decisions to make. However, there's one important catch: OSHA will mostly rely on "complaints" to enforce the rule, meaning it will be up to American workers whether or not they want to hold their fellow workers accountable for defying the policy. This incentive to snitch out co-workers and neighbors has already elicited criticism from some, including Conservative Radio host Dan Bongino, who has pushed back against vaccine mandates in favor of bodily autonomy.
The strict mandate for healthcare workers is already creating some problems because, while 40% of healthcare businesses have purportedly already enforced the policy, the supposedly "minimal" level of noncompliance is reportedly exacerbating worker shortages at hospitals and other critical service providers.
In another indication of how companies are struggling with the mandate, some federal contractors had been expected to enforce the Biden Admin's vaccine mandate by Dec. 8, but those expectations have now been pushed back to Jan. 4. When asked whether the pushback was due to worker shortages, or the timing of the holiday season, they refused to comment, saying only that the delay is meant to "align" with healthcare facilities and US employers.
Perhaps President Biden (and VP/President-in-waiting Kamala Harris) have already forgotten the lessons of Tuesday's "off-year" election?
The bottom line is for the people to regain their original, moral principles, which have intentionally been watered out over the past generations by our press, TV, and other media owned by the Illuminati/Bilderberger Group, corrupting our morals by making misbehavior acceptable to our society. Only in this way shall we conquer this oncoming wave of evil.
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