Canada – Article: Status of mandatory COVID vaccine litigation

Canada’s HR Reporter

A look at recent decisions provides insight into how these cases will be decided

Remember the start of the pandemic? The general feeling of uncertainty that many of us shared as society came to terms with a new virus? After almost a year, a vaccine emerged and soon became widely available. This availability was met by a broad implementation of vaccine mandates as employers sought to transition back to in-person work.

Mandates typically required that an employee disclose their vaccination status or provide a reason (religious or medical) why they could not be vaccinated, combined with consequences for not doing so. Some employees bridled at the mandates and either refused to disclose their vaccination status or to become vaccinated, and were put on indefinite, unpaid leave.

Others were dismissed for failing to comply with their employer’s instructions – some for cause.

The legality of dismissals for cause related to vaccine mandates was not immediately clear – and remains that way. As we have previously discussed, the assessment will be a fact-specific one, including a review of whether the vaccine mandate is reasonable.