Wayne Basher, a truck driver who was terminated from Big Chill Distribution Ltd for not getting vaccinated against Covid-19, has been awarded nearly $29,000 for unjustified dismissal.
The award includes $15,000 for humiliation, loss of dignity, and injury to feelings, plus $13,967 for three months of lost wages.
Basher, who had been with the company since 2011 and received multiple awards as a top driver, was dismissed on January 24, 2022, following Big Chill’s introduction of a mandatory vaccination policy amidst the spread of the ‘Omicron’ strain.
Basher argued he was dismissal was unjustified and without a fair and reasonable process. His role did not necessitate regular customer interaction and social distancing was feasible at his work locations, he claimed.
Despite Big Chill’s assertion that the dismissal was justified under their vaccination policy, the Employment Relations Authority found that the company failed to conduct an adequate risk assessment for Basher’s role or to consider alternative measures to vaccination.
Authority member Natasha Szeto criticised Big Chill for not providing Basher with sufficient information on the health and safety risk assessment for drivers and for not considering individual risk assessments or alternatives to dismissal.
While Big Chill was found not to have breached Basher’s employment agreement or its good faith obligation concerning his medical information privacy, the Authority ruled that the company unjustifiably dismissed Basher by not following a fair and reasonable process.