Woman dismissed for refusing flu jab
A care worker who lost her job after she refused a flu jab will be allowed to argue she was unfairly dismissed, the Fair Work Commission has ruled.
Maria Corazon Glover, 64, refused a vaccination because of an allergic reaction she had 57 years ago, when she was a child living in the Philippines.
Her case, which is yet to be heard, is expected to hinge on the legality of employers requiring that staff undergo vaccination.
Ms Glover was working as an in-home care assistant for Ozcare at Shailer Park, south of Brisbane, when she was told by the company she must undergo vaccination by May 1.
The notification came after Queensland's Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, issued a direction that employees cannot enter a residential aged care facility if they have not been immunised against influenza.
Around the same time, Ozcare implemented a policy that all employees - regardless of whether they work in residential facilities or in client's homes - must be vaccinated.
Ms Glover argued the requirement was unreasonable in her situation because her objection was on medical grounds, not due to a personal or political belief.
She said she suffered an anaphylactic reaction immediately after she was administered a flu shot as a seven-year-old, and that her parents told her she could have died.
However, she has not provided any medical evidence to support the claim and refuses to seek current specialist medical advice, the commission said.
In a letter to Ms Glover dated April 2020, Ozcare CEO Anthony Godfrey said the company has a duty of care to its elderly and vulnerable clients, and she cannot continue working unvaccinated.
Ms Glover took paid personal, annual and long service leave from May until October, when she lodged an unfair dismissal application with the commission.
However, Ozcare argued the application could not proceed because she had not technically been dismissed from her role.
Instead, the company considered she was on an indefinite period of unpaid leave.
In her published judgement, Commissioner Jennifer Hunt ruled that formal notification of dismissal was not required, and that Ms Glover had, in effect, been dismissed in October.
Therefore, she will be allowed to pursue an unfair dismissal claim against the company.
Commissioner Hunt said it is expected the court will now hear evidence about the potential effect of vulnerable clients contracting influenza from an unvaccinated employee.
It is also expected the court will hear of advancements in medicine and vaccinations since Ms Glover's reaction in 1963.
Originally published as Woman dismissed for refusing flu jab