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United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
November 10, 2021, Decided; November 10, 2021, Filed
Civil Action No. 21-11686-FDS
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
This is a case challenging a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. Defendant Mass General Brigham, Inc. ("MGB") is a Massachusetts corporation and major hospital and healthcare network that operates, among other facilities, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Plaintiff Together Employees is an unincorporated association of 229 employees of MGB who were denied a religious or medical exemption from [*2] a COVID-19 vaccination policy. The remaining plaintiffs are eight individual employees whose exemption requests were denied.
On June 24, 2021, MGB announced a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for all its employees. It later set a deadline for that policy, providing that non-complying employees would be placed on unpaid leave on October 20, 2021, and thereafter terminated on November 5, 2021.
On October 17, 2021, plaintiffs brought this lawsuit, alleging claims of discrimination and retaliation under Title VII and the ADA and seeking to enjoin MGB from enforcing its vaccination policy. The Court held hearings on plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction on October 20 and November 4, 2021, and orally denied the motion from the bench. The following memorandum sets forth the reasoning of the Court in greater detail.
Except where noted, the Court relies on the parties' briefs, affidavits, documentary evidence, and oral argument to decide the present motion.
A. Factual Background
Plaintiff Together Employees is an unincorporated association of 229 employees who were denied a religious or medical exemption from the MGB COVID-19 vaccination policy. The remaining plaintiffs [*3] are individual employees of MGB who were denied religious or medical accommodations. (Pl. Exs. J-M; O-R).1
Defendant Mass General Brigham, Inc. is a Massachusetts corporation with a principal place of business in Massachusetts. MGB owns and operates hospitals and other facilities throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (Klompas Dec. ¶¶ 5-7). Among other things, it owns and operates Massachusetts General Hospital; Brigham and Women's Hospital; Faulkner Hospital; McLean Hospital; Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital; Newton-Wellesley Hospital; Cooley Dickinson Hospital; and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Each year, MGB provides medical care for 1.5 million patients. (Id. ¶ 6).
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 217386 *; __ F.Supp.3d __; 2021 WL 5234394
TOGETHER EMPLOYEES, by individual representatives, ROBERTA LANCIONE, JOYCE MILLER, MARIA DIFRONZO, MICHAEL SACCOCCIO, ELIZABETH BIGGER, NATASHA DICICCO, NICHOLAS ARNO, and RUBEN ALMEIDA, Plaintiffs, v. MASS GENERAL BRIGHAM INCORPORATED, Defendant.
Subsequent History: Injunction denied by Together Emples. v. Mass Gen. Brigham Inc., 19 F.4th 1, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 34298 (1st Cir. Mass., Nov. 18, 2021)
Affirmed by Together Emps. v. Mass Gen. Brigham Inc., 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 11379 (1st Cir. Mass., Apr. 27, 2022)
vaccination, accommodation, employees, disability, exemption, undue hardship, religious, requests, patients, reasonable accommodation, infection, religious exemption, plaintiffs', disease, merits, likelihood of success, religious belief, irreparable harm, sincerely, prima facie case, religion, preliminary injunction, interactive process, unvaccinated, impairment, Clinical, occupational health, public interest, questions, spread
Civil Procedure, Remedies, Injunctions, Preliminary & Temporary Injunctions, Justiciability, Standing, Burdens of Proof, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Business & Corporate Law, Unincorporated Associations, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Particular Parties, Third Party Standing, Business & Corporate Compliance, Disability Discrimination, Scope & Definitions, Discriminatory Conduct, Reasonable Accommodations, Undue Hardship, Discrimination, Reasonable Accommodations, Labor & Employment Law, Evidence, Burden Shifting, Disabilities Under ADA, Mental & Physical Impairments, Major Life Activities, Records of Impairments, Mental & Physical Impairments, Substantial Limitations, Disabilities Under ADA, Gender & Sex Discrimination, Parental Rights & Pregnancy, Employee Burdens of Proof, Qualified Individuals With Disabilities, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Disabled Persons, Americans With Disabilities Act, Defenses, Defenses, Direct Threats, Employment Practices, Medical Inquiries, Reassignments & Transfers, Accommodations, Public Health & Welfare Law, Healthcare, Public Health Security, Communicable Diseases, Testimony, Competency, Attorneys, Education Law, Discrimination in Schools, Interactive Process, Labor & Employment Law, Accommodation, Religious Discrimination, Employee Burdens, Reasonable Accommodation & Undue Hardship, Covered Employees & Employers, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Religion, Free Exercise of Religion, Religion Defined, Protection of Rights, Federally Assisted Programs, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Disparate Treatment, Exhaustion of Remedies, US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Civil Actions, Reasonable Cause & Conciliation, Exhaustion of Remedies, Right to Sue Letters, Filing of Charges, Jurisdiction, ADA Enforcement, Administrative Remedies, Enforcement Actions, Grounds for Injunctions, Irreparable Harm, Title VII Discrimination, Injunctions, Remedies, Preliminary Considerations, Equity, Irreparable Injury, Retaliation, Statutory Application, Americans With Disabilities Act, Elements, Protected Activities, Likelihood of Success, Torts, Intentional Torts, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress