Major ruling after South African woman fired for refusing Covid–19 vaccination

Find the Case File here

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) recently ruled in favour of Goldrush Group dismissing an employee for refusing to get vaccinated against Covid–19.

Following the case, Goldrush undertook a Covid–19 risk assessment of its workplace and decided to introduce a mandatory vaccination policy, they allowed employees the opportunity to apply for exemption from the compulsory inoculation scheme.

The employee in question, a training officer, was refused an exemption and her appeal application was declined. When she still refused to take the vaccine, she was summoned for an incapacity hearing and dismissed. At the hearing, the presiding officer concluded that the employee was permanently incapacitated based on her refusal to get vaccinated. This led her to approach the CCMA and asked for reinstatement or maximum compensation.

The commissioner ruled in favour of Goldrush, saying they were satisfied with Goldrush’s approach and agreed that the employee was permanently incapacitated for refusing to take the vaccine.

The employee made the following arguments:

  • She had a right to bodily integrity.
  • She felt under extreme social pressure and emotional discomfort being asked to choose between vaccination and her livelihood.
  • This is compounded because she had to waive her rights of recourse against pharmaceutical companies and her employer.
  • She had strictly followed Covid–19 protocols
  • The World Health Organization confirmed that the vaccine does not stop the spread or contraction of the coronavirus, but serves to minimise the severity of Covid–19 symptoms.
  • All she wanted was an exemption from mandatory vaccination and to be offered an alternative position.

During the proceedings, it emerged that the employee abandoned her attempt at obtaining medical exemption after her doctors refused to provide a medical certificate in support of her application.

Goldrush contended that, given the nature of the employee’s duties, there was no other position where she could be placed.

The commissioner found that Goldrush had followed all the crucial steps set out in its vaccination policy, including considering her exemption claim. The commissioner concluded that she was permanently incapacitated on the basis of her decision not to get vaccinated and by implication, her refusal to participate in the creation of a safe working environment.

The employee had been identified as a high-risk individual who was required to interact with colleagues daily while on duty in confined, uncontrollable spaces.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

We have enclosed the following case files for you to read more about the CCMA Case here.

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Part of this article was shared from My broadband.