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Demanding a Vaccination Exemption in Arizona
How I forced one of Arizona's largest employers, Phoenix Children's Hospital, to back down from its COVID-19 vaccine mandate by threatening litigation.
I recently commented on an Article from the Arizona Daily Independent titled “Phoenix Children’s Hospital Board Threatened with Class Action Lawsuit Over COVID-19 Mandate.” Published on August 30, 2021, and written by Terri Jo Neff, the Article discusses a letter from a concerned Nurse sent to the CEO of Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
On July 30, 2021, the Nurse (who was employed prior to COVID-19) was threatened with termination unless she agreed to comply with PCH’s new COVID-19 vaccination policy, requiring “all Phoenix Children’s employees, volunteers, contract staff, medical staff, and learners be fully vaccinated with one of the COVID-19 vaccinations currently under the FDA’s emergency use authorization (EUA), no later than Friday, October 1, 2021.”
Effectively, this “Children’s Hospital” demanded that its employees (trusted medical professionals) permanently change their bodies by taking an experimental product as a term of ongoing employment. In exchange for this, they were offered peanuts.
This nurse was ultimately granted an exemption—by repeatedly demanding it, threatening lawsuits, and not backing down. That nurse is my sister, and I was blessed with the capacity to help her. I did this (in my spare time) before starting The Gavel Project. In this post, I’ll explain how.
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I do not wish this post to be self-aggrandizing. I’m not bragging, I’m fundraising. I want people to know that their gifts to fund the Gavel Project are in capable hands.
At all relevant times discussed herein—I was licensed to practice law for less than a year. Regardless of my lack of experience, I forced a corporation that does over $500 million annually to fold under threat of litigation.
To my knowledge, no one else attempted my approach. I don’t believe anyone else thought of it. The Lord blessed me with ADHD. So, I have always thought differently than other people—and I often solve problems in ways that other people cannot imagine.
Finally, before revealing my approach, I want to state that I am grateful to PCH for making the right decision and conceding. Legally, it was the right move. The argument is correct, and the attorneys and administrators at PCH acted professionally in letting go of the point. I wish more attorneys (especially those in California) would act in such a manner—to place reason over pride and act accordingly.
Like many states, employment in Arizona is “at will” (employees can be fired or quit for nearly any reason). Arizona also doesn’t require employment contracts to be in writing.
Despite being an “at will” state, the Arizona Supreme Court recognizes that employees are entitled to implied-in-fact contractual rights that arise from the circumstances surrounding a job offer. Demasse v. ITT, Corp., 984 P.2d 1138 (1999).
Stated simply, if a reasonable person observing the hiring process would understand an employer’s actions and statements to represent some legal sacrifice by the employer to the benefit of the new hire (such as money or health insurance), then Arizona Courts will treat this representation as an express contract provision—enforceable as if written. Id., at 1143.
Under Arizona law, employers may not unilaterally modify employment contracts. Id., at 1144.
These principles are most easily understood by example. Consider, an employer unilaterally declares that its employees must give up their health insurance at the end of the financial quarter. The employer offers nothing in return for this relinquishment and threatens to terminate those who disagree. What rights would the employees have?
In Arizona, the employee could sue for breach of contract (even without a written agreement) because he or she must be offered something of legal value in exchange for relinquishing his or her contractual right to health insurance, and the employee must accept the offer to modify his or her contract. The employer could likely change to a comparable provider and still honor its contractual obligation, but it may not entirely retract its contractual duty to provide health insurance to its employees.
For any modification of an employment contract to be legally enforceable, an Arizona employer must offer to change the contract terms, there must be an exchange of value (increased pay or alternative benefit), and the employee must accept the new terms. Id., at 1145.
There also must be sufficient consideration (measured by the tangible exchange of value that is bargained for by the parties), and the Arizona Supreme Court holds that ongoing employment—by itself—is insufficient consideration to modify an employment contract. Id.
In other words, your employer cannot force you to permanently modify your body without, in exchange, offering you something of value which you must accept. Absent this process, an employment contract formed under Arizona law cannot be modified.
The dispute with PCH came down to the wire. In the end, we stayed strong, and the hospital folded a day or two after their deadline. Below are modified pdfs containing the relevant substantive communications from my sister to PCH. These forms are intended for educational purposes only. Do not consider this information legal advice; it isn’t. I (Ryan Heath) am not for hire as an Attorney.
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The first communication to the hospital is titled “COVID-19 Religious Exemption Demand Form.” It was submitted in early August in response to Mr. Meyer’s July 30, 2021, email.
The final communication was my final response to the hospital demanding concession and threatening suit.
In conclusion, I’d like to invite anyone giving annually to Phoenix Children’s Hospital to redirect your tax deductible donations to The Gavel Project. The board of directors for PCH is full of extraordinarily wealthy and shrewd business leaders (I know a few of them). Despite being a “children’s hospital,” this organization acts no differently than any other cut-throat corporation. In effect, they are a nonprofit medical cartel that acts like a for profit monopoly. Many of their top level executives make astronomical salaries with benefits most could only dream of. They are monsters, like the leaders of most large organizations in the United States, and many receive exorbitant bonuses for doing a cushy, useless job. These bonuses and benefits come from your donations. If you want to help children, I guarantee that your resources will be better utilized by The Gavel Project.