Michigan State University staff take legal action after dismissal for failing to obtain COVID vaccine

A class action lawsuit against Michigan State University found that the East Lansing institution laid off at least two employees and suspended others who did not comply with its vaccine mandate.

The trial, first reported on Tuesday by Detroit News, confirms that the university fired Kraig Ehm, a video producer at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, for not receiving at least one dose of the vaccine by the August 30 MSU deadline. D’Ann Rohrer, an extension educator, has been placed on unpaid leave, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids.

The university confirmed to Crain’s on Tuesday that Ehm and Rohrer are no longer employed, but did not specify the circumstances of their dismissal or whether other employees have been suspended or fired for failing to comply with the mandate.

Jeanna Norris, an administrative supervisory assistant, filed the initial lawsuit against MSU in August, but does not appear to have been terminated so far and is working from home. The New Civil Liberties Alliance, a civil rights organization based in Washington, DC, has filed a lawsuit against Norris.

Dan Olsen, deputy spokesperson for MSU, said the university also suspended 16 students for not receiving the vaccine.

“COVID-19 vaccines are one of the most powerful and one of the few tools we have to prevent disease, serious illness and death,” Olsen said in a statement to Crain’s. “To date, over 90 percent of MSU students, faculty and staff have reported being fully immunized. Currently, MSU is proceeding under applicable disciplinary procedures for each person who does not. has not been vaccinated and has no exemption. “

Olsen said those found to be in violation of the Immunization Directive will “be subject to disciplinary action, including removal from campus and termination or dismissal from the university, for the health and safety of the MSU community “.

The plaintiffs – Norris, Ehm and Rohrer – allege that the university violated their constitutional rights by imposing unnecessary medical treatment.

All three plaintiffs have already contracted COVID-19, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states: “By threatening adverse professional and personal consequences, the MSU directive not only directly and palpably harms the autonomy and bodily dignity of complainants, but it forces them to endure stress and anxiety. to choose between their job and their health. “

The judge in the case denied an injunction to stop the warrant in August.

Several institutions have been sued by employees to prevent the continuation of immunization warrants, but most are dismissed from the courts for lack of legal capacity.

For example, Houston Methodist mandated the vaccine in June for its roughly 26,000 employees, and legal action has been filed on behalf of 117 of them. A Texas federal judge later dismissed the lawsuit.

About 50 Henry Ford Health System employees filed a complaint in September about this vaccine mandate, but the case was later dropped after President Joe Biden announced his intention to mandate a vaccine for any health system receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding.

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