Anti-vaxxer loses legal case against employer over vaccine policy | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Anti-vaxxer loses legal case against employer over vaccine policy

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Image Credit: PEXELS/Katja Fuhlert

A B.C. woman who was placed on unpaid leave because she refused to get vaccinated has lost a legal challenge against her former employer.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather MacNaughton dismissed Deepk Parmar's claim that she should have been allowed to work remotely because she would not get vaccinated.

While other similar cases have been through arbitration, this is the first case where an employee has sued their employer claiming constructive dismissal.

According to a Sept. 26 B.C. Supreme Court decision, Parmar argued it was "unreasonable" for her employer, Tribe Management, not to make an exception for her to work from home.

According to the decision, Parmar was a senior accountant for Tribe Management making a base salary of $100,000 a year, when the company brought in its mandatory vaccination policy for staff.

The company's chief executive officer Joseph Nakhla said it was the most difficult professional decision he'd ever made.

The decision says all 220 employees except Parmar got vaccinated when the policy came in. Prior to the vaccination policy, 84 per cent of staff were already vaccinated.

While Parmar says she is not an "anti-vaxxer" she refused to get vaccinated and was placed on unpaid three-month leave.

Tribe Management placed her on indefinite leave but it expected her to return to work immediately once vaccinated or the mandatory vaccinated policy was repealed or relaxed.

However, on Jan. 26 Parmar wrote to the company and said she had resigned and considered herself constructively dismissed. She filed the lawsuit against the company that day.

In her defence for not getting vaccinated, Parmar states several family members had suffered side effects from getting the shot.

She said her father experienced severe headaches after his second dose and an aunt experienced an endometriosis flare-up.

Parmar admitted her father underwent heart bypass surgery in 2019 and agreed that her father was never told by a doctor his headaches were symptoms related to the vaccine. 

She also provided no evidence connecting endometriosis with COVID-19 vaccines.

Parmar argued that while her company's mandatory vaccination policy was legal – she'd signed a contract saying she'd comply with all of its policies – she argued it was unreasonable not to make an exception for people to work from home.

"I accept that Ms. Parmar was faced with a difficult choice. She apparently held strong beliefs about the safety of the vaccine, and it is not my role to question those beliefs," the Justice said. "However, in the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic in the winter of 2021 and January 2022, implementing a (mandatory vaccination policy) was a reasonable policy choice for employers."

The Justice said the company held her position open for her and was prepared to extend her leave of absence until its vaccination policy changed as more information became available, or she got vaccinated.

"It was her choice to remain unvaccinated. She opted to resign, and, in the circumstances of this case, that was a voluntary decision," the Justice said.

"I accept that it is extraordinary for an employer to enact a workplace policy that impacts an employee’s bodily integrity, but in the context of the extraordinary health challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, such policies are reasonable. They do not force an employee to be vaccinated. What they do force is a choice between getting vaccinated, and continuing to earn an income, or remaining unvaccinated, and losing their income. Ms. Parmar made her choice based on what appears to have been speculative information about potential risks," the Justice said.

Ultimately, the Justice dismissed Parmar's case.

READ MORE: Kelowna pastor who broke COVID rules loses legal challenge


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