Wrongful dismissal suit over vaccine mandates and working remotely

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As vaccine policies continue to be implemented in workplaces across the country, employees who have chosen to refuse vaccination are now being terminated. The rise in terminations has also given way to wrongful dismissal suits.

Andrew Horvath, an accountant in B.C recently filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit as she was terminated for cause due to her vaccination status despite the fact she worked remotely.

A Vancouver employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, who represents Horvath, spoke to Law360 Canada on their client’s situation.

“Horvath works from home and didn’t feel it was necessary, and our position is that an employer doesn’t get to decide what occupational health and safety compliance entails — only the government does,” says the lawyer. “It is equivalent to an employer implementing something along the lines of no perfume in the workplace, and then firing an employee for cause for wearing perfume at home.”

The employment lawyer goes on to explain that Samfiru Tumarkin LLP has been dealing with many similar lawsuits. “It seems many companies, without being government mandated to do so, are bringing policies to say you have to be fully vaccinated in order to continue working there, whether the individual works from home or not,” the lawyer states. “Many of my clients do work 100 percent remotely, so it just begs the question why the employer needs to know whether somebody at home is vaccinated or not and clearly it has not prevented them from doing their job over the last 18 to 20 months since the pandemic began — so why now? And those people are being put on unpaid leaves of absences or terminated for cause, and that is basically what are we dealing with on most of these files.”

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