The attorney who represented vaccine-exempted Geisinger employees in a failed bid for a court injunction blocking them from submitting to COVID-19 testing at work said he is prepared to file anti-discrimination complaints on their behalf.
Greg Stapp, whose practice is based in Williamsport, said the complaints would be filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) should his 105 clients lose their jobs by not participating in Geisinger’s testing program.
Three missed tests results in what Geisinger describes as “voluntary resignations.” Employees who hadn’t yet submitted any test results had until midnight Tuesday to comply, spokesman Joe Stender said. According to Stender, 35 employees were in non-compliance and “have voluntarily resigned” as of Wednesday while all remaining employees are in compliance.
Citing an internal memo from Geisinger, Stapp said an estimated 1,000 employees received religious or medical exemptions from COVID-19 vaccinations. As a result, they’re required to submit to twice-weekly testing, either PCR (nasal swabs) or antigen tests. Vaccinated employees are not required to undergo testing.
“We believe this is clear discrimination against those individuals, although our complaint dealt only with employees who requested religious exemptions,” Stapp said.
Chief U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann dismissed the injunction request in a federal court ruling Tuesday. The judge described Geisinger’s testing requirement as “rational” and said the employees’ claims lacked merit and “failed across the board.”
“While their claims invoke religious discrimination, their focus is on the ‘science.’ Now, I’ll admit, some of what they cite seems to have merit. Though I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that the vast majority of their case appears to reflect a toxic combination of motivated reasoning and misinformation — a cocktail that that promises to plague this country long after COVID-19 has abated,” Brann wrote in his memorandum and order.
“But, in the end, the (employees’) take on the ‘science’ is irrelevant absent a right. and here, the Geisinger employees have utterly failed to demonstrate that they have one. That renders their claim dead-on-arrival,” Brann wrote.
Stapp referred to documents submitted to bolster the injunction request, including information from national medical organizations and the manufacturer of tests used by Geisinger about the potential harmful effects of chemical agents like ethylene oxide, which is used to sterilize the nasal swabs.
He also cited a study published in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal, about how vaccinated persons can spread COVID-19.
“Obviously, we do not agree with Judge Brann’s Memorandum or Order,” Stapp wrote by email Wednesday. “If Geisinger moves forward with firing employees for failing to comply with these tests that are presently only be required of individuals who requested a religious or medical exemption, we anticipate that we will be filing complaints with the PHRC and EEOC on their behalf.”