Michigan State University

Michigan State University

(The Center Square) – A Michigan State University (MSU) employee sued over the school's recently announced vaccine mandate, saying she has naturally acquired immunity to COVID-19 after recovering from the virus last year and doesn’t need the vaccine.

Jeanna Norris is a supervisory administrative associate and fiscal officer at MSU, which has threatened disciplinary action, including termination, if employees do not comply with the school’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for the Fall 2021 semester, according to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

The New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit civil rights group, filed a class-action complaint and a preliminary injunction challenging the mandatory vaccination policy for those with natural immunity.

MSU's “COVID Directives” mandate faculty, staff, and students be completely vaccinated by August 31 or received at least one dose of a two-dose series unless they obtain a religious or medical exemption or test weekly until fully vaccinated.

The lawsuit claims MSU’s policy specifically excludes natural immunity as a basis for a medical exemption. MSU hasn’t responded to a request for comment. The suit says two recent antibodies tests demonstrate Norris’ robust immunity to reinfection, so Norris doesn’t pose a threat to the MSU community.

Her immunologist, Dr. Hooman Noorchashm, says Norris’ “antibody level is highly likely to be above the minimum necessary to provide adequate protection against re-infection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” However, the suit says she could still be fired for not taking the vaccine. Forcing Norris to take the COVID-19 vaccine that could bring adverse side affects or suffer possible discipline violates her rights under the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments, the suit claims.

"If Plaintiff follows her doctor’s advice and elects not to take the vaccine, she faces adverse disciplinary consequences," the suit says. "In short, the Directive is unmistakably coercive and cannot reasonably be considered anything other than an unlawful mandate.”

NCLA asks the court to enjoin enforcement of the policy on constitutional and statutory grounds.

“Along with all too many Americans, Ms. Norris is facing an impossible dilemma: lose her job or receive a vaccine that is medically unnecessary for her,” NCLA Litigation Counsel Jenin Younes said in a statement. “Michigan State has placed her, and others like her, in this position for no good reason, because she has robust immunity as established by the overwhelming scientific literature. Many public health authorities, the media, and the CDC have resisted the conclusion that natural immunity exists and is as protective or more so than the best available vaccines. Through Ms. Norris’s case, the integrity of the scientific process, which has been severely compromised during the pandemic, can be vindicated through the court system.”

Four soccer stars at Western Michigan University also sued over WMU's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, saying it violates their religious beliefs.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.