Traveling during COVID-19: Cause for dismissal?

London Health Sciences CEO Dr. Paul Woods is suing the LHSC board for damages after he was terminated seemingly for traveling during the pandemic. Can employees be let go for their private actions during COVID-19? Are there different policies for executives and severance pay?

Toronto employment lawyer and co-founding partner Lior Samfiru at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP joins the Roy Green Show on 900 CHML to answer these questions and more.

What They Discussed

  • Does Dr. Woods have a case for suing the LHSC board for violating his human rights? For cause termination is not in dispute as the hospital has stated his traveling is not cause for dismissal. Woods is claiming his travel plans were approved by the board and if this can be proven, he might have a case.
  • Are some decisions made by employers during COVID-19 being made on the fly? Many employers are being forced to make decisions based on no prior precedent as the pandemic has changed the workplace fundamentally. Some decisions are also made based on public pressure.
  • Can an employee be terminated with cause for violating stay at home orders? Generally, if an employee’s actions on their own time do not affect the workplace, they cannot be terminated with cause. A for-cause termination could be applied to a high-profile employee that represents a company in a public sphere.
  • Will Dr. Woods have to prove his travel plans were approved by the LHSC board? As Dr. Woods is suing for damages to his career and future earning potential, he will have to prove the LHSC board initially approved of his travels.

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