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The controversial vaccine mandate has created a lot of uncertainty as many people have lost their jobs for refusing to receive the Covid vaccine. Too often, employees across the country are being told to make a choice, to either take the jab or to face consequences ranging from suspension to termination. While many employers believe that the government approval of the mandate gives them the legal right to discipline those refusing to be vaccinated, the consensus amongst employment lawyers is that refusing to get vaccinated does not justify an employee’s termination. This opinion is becoming mainstream as a number of unions have filed grievances against employers, asserting that mandatory Covid-19 vaccine policies are unreasonable and represent a significant overreach into employees’ rights.

Presently three leading national unions are leading the fight and pushing back against the government’s vaccine mandate. Three of the biggest federal public sector unions (PIPSC, CAPE, PSAC) have joined forces to challenge the government’s vaccine mandate for bureaucrats. They argue that suspending unvaccinated people without pay instead of allowing them to work from home is punitive and unjustified. Since vaccination status does not hinder employees from doing their work from home, employers can no longer claim just cause for termination. 

Proving Just cause in the employment context requires an employee doing something egregious that gives the employer a right to dismiss them immediately. However, the standard to prove just cause is very high, and refusing to comply with the vaccination policy might not meet the onerous standard for just cause. Indeed, an employer asserting just cause would have to prove that the absence of vaccination renders employees unable to perform work for a substantial period of time. 

As the science over COVID evolves, putting employees on leave without pay or terminating them for not getting vaccinated can effectively be considered as unjustified disciplinary action. At this point, when working from home has become an established practice, forcing the vaccine onto employees working remotely is akin to construction workers having to wear a hard hat while working from home. 

Given the loosening of COVID restrictions, the imposition of strong vaccinal policies and subsequent firing is unjustifiable.

If you have been disciplined or let go of your employment due to a vaccine mandate, reach out to De Bousquet PC to defend your rights. 

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