Employees who refuse to be vaccinated can be fired: lawyer
TORONTO -- The federal government has said its workers must be vaccinated by October 29 or risk being terminated. Now private companies are also looking at bringing in their own vaccination polices.
Labour lawyer Howard Levitt, Senior Partner with Levitt LLP Employment & Labour Law expects many employees who refuse to get vaccinated will leave their jobs or be terminated in the months ahead.
“We have a lot of anti-vaxxers who are refusing to get vaccinated so they are going to be resigning or they are going to be fired and for cause," said Levitt.
Levitt said an employee fired for not getting vaccinated will most likely not receive severance pay and he feels if they sue their employer they will lose as the courts will see mandatory vaccinations as something that is being done for the greater good of society.
In the United States, American Airlines told its workers if they refuse to be vaccinated they will be fired.
Levitt says now that the federal government has mandated vaccines for its employees, private companies will follow.
“I suspect there will be monumental numbers of firings this fall. It's happening in the U.S. and it will happen here because employers are moving towards compulsory vaccinations for everybody," said Levitt.
Employees who insist on working from home to avoid being vaccinated could also lose their jobs.
Levitt said, “if an employer calls you back to work now and they refuse to attend, they have abandoned their job and they are entitled to nothing in forms of compensation."
Levitt also feels the exemptions being sought by some employees are only for a select few saying “there is no easy way out for employees that don't want to be vaccinated."
There is an exemption if you belong to a religion that prohibits vaccines, but Levitt believes there are no major religions that hold that as a tenet to their belief system. He feels there may be “fringe” religions that may, but said even then a person would have to show they were a long-time member of the religion and have written proof from a leader in the group specifying why they should not get a vaccine.
Levitt also said the two medical exceptions also affect very few people.
“The first is a severe, dangerous reaction toward the components of the vaccine or inflammation of the heart - that's it," said Levitt.
The labour lawyer also said the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is now cracking down on doctors who are handing out medical exemptions that may not be warranted and could face disciplinary action.
Fake vaccine passports are also being sold on the internet, but Levitt cautions against anyone lying about their vaccination status.
“If they get false proof or the employee lies that's cause for their discharge with cause and without any severance pay," said Levitt.
Companies may also have differing vaccination polices depending on the kind of work they do.
Anyone who quits their job because they don't want to be vaccinated could also find they're not eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.