BC arbitrator rules it ‘reasonable’ to fire unvaccinated

By Christopher Oldcorn – West Coast Standard

Covid vaccination

Employers in British Columbia who fired unvaccinated workers were following the “prevailing community view,” according to a ruling by Labour Arbitrator James Dorsey.

“In British Columbia, the message was to stay calm, kind and safe as everyone worked to overcome the effects of the pandemic,” wrote arbitrator James Dorsey. 

“There were personal, intense and consequential differences about vaccination within families, friendship circles and communities.”

“When employers considered it appropriate and necessary to adopt a vaccination policy for its employees, they adopted the prevailing community view that vaccines were the best and necessary avenue to overcome the effects of the pandemic and its accompanying restrictions,” wrote Dorsey.

The arbitrator dismissed appeals by the British Columbia General Employees’ Union over the firing of three employees at Technical Safety BC in Vancouver. 

According to an official estimate, the agency had 450 employees with a 99% vaccination rate.

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, three workers who did not show proof of vaccination were fired. Even though they worked from home and could have been tested.

One expert witness testifying on the union’s behalf said COVID-19 affected “both the vaccinated and unvaccinated” with “no randomized scientific studies comparing head-to-head the effect of vaccination alone versus alternative precautions.”

“We are moving backward and sinking in a dark place with vaccine mandates,” one ex-employee wrote to management. 

“It’s not about the COVID-19 vaccine being good or bad, it is about imposing an experimental medical procedure on Technical Safety BC employees.”

The employer said workers had six weeks to show they got the vaccine. If they did not, they would be suspended without pay and could lose their job on Jan. 10, 2022.

“The vaccination policy was an employer workplace rule unilaterally introduced by the employer and not agreed to by the Union,” wrote Arbitrator Dorsey.

The mandate was extreme but justified, Dorsey said. 

“At the time, the policy was a good faith promotion of health and safety for all employees in the workplace and furthered the employer’s safety mandate and legitimate business interests,” wrote Dorsey.

“The misconduct for which the employees were dismissed was continued noncompliance with the policy.”

“The issue is whether there was just and reasonable cause for each dismissal and whether any was an excessive disciplinary response in the circumstances.  This is the real substance of the matter in dispute.”

A similar mandate enforced by the Treasury Board saw an estimated 99.7% of 268,000 federal employees show proof of vaccination.

To date, no national agency has calculated the number of public and private sector workers who were fired under vaccine mandates

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