London hospital workers file $700K in wrongful dismissal suits over vaccine policy

lhsc, london hospital, london hospital vaccine mandate, london hospital wrongful dismissal

Two former London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) administration employees have filed wrongful dismissal lawsuits against the hospital after being fired for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The separate suits, filed after the staffers’ layoffs in 2021 due to non-compliance with , seek a combined $700,000 in damages.

What is the LHSC’s vaccine mandate for employees?

LHSC introduced a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy in August 2021.

  • Two-dose deadline: All employees were required to get two doses of COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 22. Those who failed to get the shot by the deadline were fired. Of the LHSC’s staff, 84 employees were let go. This included 33 nurses and 41 people working in non-clinical positions.
  • Current policy: As of July 2022, the hospital has not changed its vaccination policy.

Who filed wrongful dismissal claims?

Former employees seeking compensation from the LHSC include:

  • Angela Simpson: She was a support analyst who had worked at LHSC for 23 years. Simpson was working remotely from home when she was fired. She sought an exemption from the hospital’s vaccination policy for “creed-based and conscience-based reasons” but was denied by her employer. She was let go on Oct. 21 without a severance package. Her claim is for $500,000 in damages for wrongful dismissal and breach of her employment contract, among other things.
  • Laura Goncalves: She worked for the hospital in a communications role since 2010. She shifted to remote work at the start of the pandemic, without a date to return to the office. Goncalves, too, was fired on Oct. 21 without Ontario severance pay.

Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, Canada’s largest employee-side employment law firm, is representing countless clients who have been wrongfully dismissed (not given proper severance) after failing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Recently, the Toronto Star reported on over a dozen Metrolinx managers who were let go under similar circumstances.

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Can an employer fire someone for not getting vaccinated?

An employer can fire an employee who does not get vaccinated against COVID-19. It is called a termination without cause. But the company must provide a full severance package to the worker, which can total as much as 24 months’ pay. Failure to do so can result in a wrongful dismissal claim.

Severance pay for Metrolinx employees

What an employer can’t do is fire an employee “for cause” if they fail to get vaccinated, as per the company’s policy. The company can’t use the failure to fully vaccinate against COVID-19 as a reason to dismiss someone, without compensation or the ability to collect Employment Insurance. The only way that an employer, like LHSC, can fire non-unionized employees for cause for refusing to get the shot, is if there is a government mandate requiring vaccination for businesses operating in that specific sector of employment (there are currently none for LHSC or its employees).

WATCH: Employment lawyer Lior Samfiru explains why employees can claim wrongful dismissal if they are fired for not getting vaccinated, in an interview with Global News.

What about unpaid leave?

It is illegal for an employer to put an employee on an unpaid leave of absence for failing to get a COVID-19 vaccine. A company can’t make significant changes to an employee’s job, without their permission. This includes adding a requirement for workers to be vaccinated to as an aspect of their employment, or taking away someone’s hours and failing to pay them.

Employees in this situation can leave with a severance package through a constructive dismissal claim. The Pocket Employment Lawyer can tell you how much you may be entitled to.

Talk to an employment lawyer today

If you worked for an employer (like LHSC) in a non-unionized position, and lost your job, contact our experienced team of employment lawyers immediately. Samfiru Tumarkin LLP has helped tens of thousands of Canadians enforce their rights.

Our employment lawyers can review your situation, present you with sound options and strategy, and work to get you what you are owed.

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