PA Headlines: Geisinger in Federal Court, PA House Member ‘Guilty’

WILLIAMSPORT — PennLive is reporting today… Geisinger has asked a federal judge to dismiss the religious discrimination lawsuit brought by more than 100 unvaccinated employees who oppose the health system’s COVID-19 mandatory testing requirement.  The motion for summary judgment filed Friday in U.S. Middle District Court cites Judge Matthew W. Brann’s Nov. 23 order that denied the 104 employees’ motion for a temporary injunction that would have prevented them from being tested.

PennLive reports, Geisinger’s policy requires unvaccinated employees granted exemptions to be tested twice a week.  Those who do not comply are considered to have voluntarily resigned. There had been 35 voluntary resignations as of Monday, according to Geisinger.  Brann cited a number of reasons in denying the injunction request and questioned whether the “science” of the tests was not a factor in the opposition.  He also questioned whether the opposition to testing was sincere because the employees proposed as an alternative that the court requiring testing of all 24,000 Geisinger employees, regardless of their vaccination status.

Geisinger, in its motion for summary judgment, argues the employees have not established a case for religious discrimination and they have not exhausted their administrative remedies by filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  The vaccination policy was implemented in part due to concern with the thousands of patients it treats daily at multiple locations, the health system says.  Research shows failure to test unvaccinated individuals risks higher infection rates, it says.  Geisinger claims it would be costly to regularly test all of its employees and to “harbor” those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A former Pennsylvania state lawmaker charged with falsifying and double-dipping on expense reimbursements from the state House of Representatives and her campaign pleaded guilty this week, the state attorney general’s office said.  Margo Davidson pleaded guilty Thursday in Dauphin County Court to five counts, including theft, the office said.

All are misdemeanors, but the guilty plea bars Davidson from holding public office in Pennsylvania again, it said.  “With her actions, Davidson betrayed both her constituents and her oath of office,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement. “Today is further proof that no one is above the law and that everyone who holds office in Pennsylvania is accountable to the law and the people.”

Davidson, 59, a Democrat from Delaware County, was minority chair of the busy State Government Committee when she was charged in July. She promptly resigned her seat.  The attorney general’s office accused Davidson of getting reimbursed for hotel stays, parking, tolls and gas by both her campaign and by the House from 2015 to 2019, and for putting in for reimbursements for hotel stays that never actually occurred.  It also accused her of asking an unnamed witness to lie to investigators.  Davidson was first elected in 2010, and had been in her fifth term.


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