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A group of employees at Lancaster General Hospital filed a lawsuit against Penn Medicine two weeks ago, stating Penn Medicine's vaccine requirements violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Credit: Max Mester

A group of employees at Lancaster General Hospital is suing Penn Medicine in protest of vaccine mandates.

The lawsuit was filed two weeks ago by Pennsylvania Informed Consent Advocates, a group of employees at Lancaster General Hospital, which is part of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. In the lawsuit, employees alleged that Penn Medicine’s vaccine requirements violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by forcing employees to engage in political speech and by violating their right to body autonomy, Fox43 reported.

“Vaccines have been politicized to a point where receiving or declining a vaccine has become a political act in the eyes of the public, and being compelled into discussing one’s vaccine status is compelling that person to engage in political speech,” the lawsuit reads. 

UPHS announced in May that all employees would be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before Sept. 1 unless they received exemptions for medical or religious reasons. Since then, 99% of the health system's 38,000 employees have complied with its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. 

The lawsuit alleges that UPHS has dismissed or terminated the contracts of several of its plaintiffs. Less than one percent of employees, or around 380 people, were either terminated or quit to avoid the vaccine mandate, according to the Inquirer.

“Such corporate disciplinary action is arbitrary, is not easily appealed, and is not narrowly tailored to fulfilling the goals of ending the COVID-19 pandemic,” the lawsuit read. 

The lawsuit also argued that UPHS was creating a “harassment campaign” against unvaccinated workers, Fox43 reported.

Pennsylvania Informed Consent Advocates had voiced their opposition to the vaccine mandate prior to the lawsuit. Over the summer, they held a protest rally and a petition drive, according to the Inquirer. 

UPHS was one of the first healthcare systems in Philadelphia to institute a vaccine mandate. The city of Philadelphia recently extended the deadline for its vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, university students, faculty, and staff to Oct. 15.