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Labour Board Dismisses Complaint From Alberta Health Employee Fired for Text Seeking Fake COVID Vaccine

The Alberta Labour Relations Board has dismissed a complaint by a former Alberta health department employee who was fired over a text to a co-worker asking for help to fake her vaccination status. 

“The employer concluded the complainant had violated the employer’s Code Of Ethics and the misconduct was aggravated by her work as a frontline employee who had regular interactions with vulnerable patients and other employees,” wrote the board in its July 17 ruling, as first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.

According to the ruling, the employee had asserted that the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees had breached its duty of fair representation when it refused to advance to arbitration a grievance challenging the employee’s termination by Alberta Health Services in November 2021.

According to the document, the unidentified clerk, who had 14 years of service with the Alberta health department, had texted a co-worker on Oct. 8, 2021, saying, “There’s a little group at work that all are dead set against the vax … we are looking for a nurse close to retirement that would be willing to sign off on the vax for us and give us just saline instead of the vax … can you help us?”

The clerk legitimately received a first dose of the vaccine a week later on October 14, but was dismissed with cause within a month after the text message was reported to management.

The employee’s lawyer argued that the woman had been employed since 2008 with no previous disciplinary actions and that the penalty of termination was “not proportionate to the Complainant’s misconduct.” The lawyer said that the text message was only “evidence of a possible intention to engage in an act of dishonesty,” not in and of itself dishonest.

The board said it was mindful of the employer’s obligations regarding the “health and safety of its workers and patients, and that the importance of vaccine compliance by its employees.” It said that the union’s conclusion that the employee’s grievance would not be successful at arbitration “was a reasoned one,” adding that the union was not “arbitrary or otherwise unfair in its decision-making process.”

Federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates were in force from Nov. 15, 2021, to June 20, 2022, impacting some 283,000 public employees.

According to a backgrounder from the Treasury Board, “As of May 30, 2022, 2,108 federal employees, or less than 2%, were on administrative leave without pay, as a result of declining to disclose their vaccination status or because they were unwilling to be vaccinated with two doses.”

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