More than 170 employees at Houston Methodist hospital system in Texas have been suspended for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The company put out a new policy last month, requiring all of its 26,000 workers to get both shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines - or the one shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine - by June 7 or risk termination.
Houston Methodist says 99 percent of its employees - 24,947 - are fully vaccinated, but a small group refused to do so.
In total, 178 workers who did not get vaccinated have alleged been suspended for two weeks without pay.
It is currently unknown whether they will be able to return to work after the suspension ends.
In a statement, Marc Bloom, CEO of the hospital system, said 27 of the suspended workers have since gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.
'It is unfortunate that today's milestone of Houston Methodist becoming the safest hospital system in the country is being overshadowed by a few disgruntled employees,' Bloom said.
'I know that today may be difficult for some who are sad about losing a colleague who's decided to not get vaccinated.'
'We only wish them well and thank them for their past service to our community, and we must respect the decision they made.'
Earlier this month, 117 employees sued Houston Methodist, claiming the hospital 'is forcing its employees to be human 'guinea pigs' as a condition for continued employment,' reported KHOU 11 last month.
They also claim coronavirus vaccines are 'experimental,' because they have only received emergency use authorization and not full U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.