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I am a non-union staff member at an institution that has recently implemented a mandatory vaccination policy. We are currently in an interim phase and I will be terminated in about 6 weeks if I don't get vaccinated. There is an option to apply for an exemption for medical or religious reasons. I plan to sue my employer for wrongful dismissal if I ultimately am fired with cause. My question is, if I apply for an exemption in the interim and am denied, will that have any bearing on a potential future legal case? E.g. does my application for exemption imply that I believe their new policy is reasonable?

Thank you for your question. In the Canadian workplace, with few exceptions, employers are generally not obligated to mandate employee vaccination as part of their duty to maintain a safe work environment.

Your employer cannot force you to get vaccinated. Only the government has the power to make vaccines mandatory, and so far they have not done that. Further, a mandatory vaccine policy will always be subject to certain exemptions, such as employees with a medical condition or religious grounds. Employees cannot be penalized for refusing a vaccination due to protected grounds as it is considered a human rights violation.

The problem here is a practical one. The reality is that even if what your employer is doing is not legal, you may lose your job if you do not comply with your employer's vaccine policy. You cannot stop your employer for terminating your employment. That said, you would be owed severance and potentially other damages if you lose your job or are suspended.

Please contact us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation for a more fulsome assessment of your situation.
The Lawyers at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP
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