Work: What’s Next | Unvaccinated employees claim wrongful dismissal

Headshot of employment lawyer Lior Samfiru to the left of the Global News logo, which hovers above a dark blue band across the bottom of the image bearing the Samfiru Tumarkin LLP logo.

Interview Summary

As more businesses put forth their own vaccine mandates, many employees face possible termination and some have not been given any assurances of severance pay upon termination.  Are employers who fire employees due to their vaccination status liable for future lawsuits?

Lior Samfiru, Toronto employment lawyer and co-managing partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP spoke with Global News on the weekly Work What’s Next segment to discuss the wrongful dismissal suits.

Interview Notes

What does “wrongful dismissal” mean and how does an employee know if they have been wrongfully dismissed?

Wrongful dismissal is a situation in which an employee is let go without severance or an insufficient amount of severance. Employees who have been let go without adequate severance have been wrongfully dismissed. Many employees incorrectly assume that a wrongful dismissal occurs due to the reason for termination.

How prevalent are these wrongful dismissal claims by unvaccinated employees to the terminations?

Due to terminations as a result of vaccination status, there has been a sharp increase in wrongful dismissal suits. Samfiru Tumarkin LLP has been dealing with hundreds of questions and a large volume of wrongful dismissal cases over the past few months.

Are wrongful dismissal claims difficult to resolve? Do they all end up in front of a judge in a courtroom?

Employment law cases on the whole are resolved fairly quickly and are typically resolved in months and do not lead to a courtroom. Many individuals have been wrongfully dismissed in sectors in which there is no government mandate and so the likelihood of their cases being successful is high. As of yet, there have been no court decisions regarding wrongful dismissals and unvaccinated employees.

Are employees who have filed a wrongful dismissal claim permitted to work?

Employees who have filed a wrongful dismissal are permitted and encouraged to find other employment. Legally, employees are obligated to find other employment to replace the income that they have lost. Individuals who have been terminated due to vaccination status could have difficulty finding future employment.

Has a court precedent been set regarding wrongful dismissals and unvaccinated employees?

Employment laws have largely been created by judges. There have been no court cases as of yet regarding wrongful dismissals and unvaccinated employees. In the next year, there are likely to be court decisions that could set a precedent but it would not be a final ruling.

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