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United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
November 23, 2021, Decided; November 23, 2021, Filed
] Federal courts have tremendous power, but limited jurisdiction. Federal judges are not entitled to intervene any time that parties believe they have been treated unfairly. We wear robes, not crowns.
] Our role is transcribed. For federal judges to provide relief, parties must first show that they have an enforceable right. And if there's no right, there can be no remedy.
Believing that they have been treated unfairly, some 100 unvaccinated Geisinger Health Employees have attempted to put the efficacy of their employer's COVID-19 program on trial. To remedy their unfair treatment under this program, the Employees ask that I commandeer their employer's vaccination policy—and issue a preliminary injunction that either exempts [*4] them from their employer's unvaccinated employee testing requirement or require that the vaccinated employees be tested as well.
Yet in this effort, they have neglected to show that they have a right that would justify this extraordinary action. 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.
But, in the end, the Employers' 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.
But before I dive into the legal deficiencies of their claims, a bit of background and an explanation of the legal standard applied to their requested relief are in order.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 226190 *; __ F.Supp.3d __; 2021 WL 5494289
THEODORE FEDEROFF, et al., Plaintiffs, v. GEISINGER CLINIC, et al., Defendants.
Subsequent History: Summary judgment denied by, Without prejudice Federoff v. Clinic, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84629 (M.D. Pa., May 10, 2022)
Employees, vaccinated, testing, preliminary injunction, religion, courts, rights, religious, infected, irreparable harm, unvaccinated, exemption, preliminary relief, undue hardship, parties, religious belief, factors, constitutional claim, oral argument, injunction, sincere, merits, de minimis, accommodation, exhaustion, religious discrimination, testing requirement, failure to provide, amended complaint, religious creed
Governments, Courts, Authority to Adjudicate, Civil Procedure, Remedies, Injunctions, Preliminary & Temporary Injunctions, Temporary Restraining Orders, Grounds for Injunctions, Judicial Officers, Judges, Discretionary Powers, Business & Corporate Compliance, Regulators, Civil Rights Commissions, Authorities & Powers, Labor & Employment Law, Civil Actions, Exhaustion of Remedies, Filing of Charges, Grounds for Injunctions, Irreparable Harm, Discrimination, Actionable Discrimination, Disparate Treatment, Remedies, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Religion, Establishment of Religion, Bill of Rights, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom to Petition, Free Exercise of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Scope, Equal Protection, Full & Equal Benefit, Nature & Scope of Protection, Relations Among Governments, Privileges & Immunities, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, State Constitutional Operation, Unenumerated Rights, Religious Discrimination, Scope & Definitions, Covered Employees & Employers, Religion Defined, Discriminatory Employment Practices, Discharges, Discipline & Transfers, Defenses, Reasonable Accommodation & Undue Hardship, Burdens of Proof, Employee Burdens, Labor & Employment Law, Accommodation, Burden Shifting, US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Authorities & Powers, Investigative Authority, Jurisdiction, Right to Sue Letters, Racial Discrimination, Enforcement, Title VII Discrimination, Injunctions, Scope & Definitions, Protection of Rights, Federally Assisted Programs, Civil Rights Act of 1964