“She was not forced to do anything”: Fair Work’s scathing rebuke of vaccine-hesitant worker

vaccinations fwc fair work commission

COVID-19 vaccine. Source: Unsplash/Brano.

A Victorian dietitian who refused to provide her vaccine status has lost her bid to have her dismissal overturned at her workplace of more than a decade.

Isabella Stevens was employed at Epworth Health in Melbourne when mandates were introduced in October 2021 stipulating all healthcare workers be vaccinated against COVID-19.

After an email was sent to all staff about the deadline, Stevens wrote to Epworth Richmond’s executive general manager Simon Benedict to argue she shouldn’t have to provide her vaccine status — while also casting doubt on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

But Benedict replied that it wasn’t up for discussion — it was a legally binding direction from the government, and penalties applied if Epworth didn’t follow it.

He also warned management was legally bound to block access to the premises after that date if a staffer had not provided either their vaccination or a valid exception.

The communication between the pair heated up — Stevens, who had taken work off at the time, pointed to the Privacy Act 1988 in refusing to provide her vaccination status.

Benedict’s hands were tied. He told her it wouldn’t be lawful for her to come into work, meaning she wasn’t fulfilling the requirements of the role. She was sacked.

Stevens took it to the Fair Work Commission, where she contended that the requirement for her to be vaccinated as a condition of her ongoing employment was, in essence, forcing her to participate in a “medical trial procedure” without alternatives — she argued that was contrary to the Victorian Mental Health Act 2014.

She provided various reports and articles that cast doubt on the efficacy or safety of COVID-19 vaccines — but no expert evidence.

‘She did have an alternative’

Fair Work’s deputy president Alan Colman waved Stevens’s arguments away.

“I reject the contention that Epworth was forcing Ms Stevens to participate in a ‘medical trial procedure’. She was not forced to do anything. And the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations is not a trial,” Colman said in his findings.

“It is not correct to say the employee had no alternative but to become vaccinated. She did have an alternative. It was the alternative that she decided to choose.”

Colman did acknowledge, however, that it would’ve been a “very difficult choice” for Stevens, because the alternative involved her legal exclusion from her job.

Stevens also argued she’d been the subject of adverse action, coercion, undue influence, misrepresentations and discrimination contrary to the Fair Work Act and that her ‘right to work’ under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) had been violated.

But, Colman contended, “international conventions have domestic effect in Australia only to the extent that they have been incorporated into legislation”.

“There is no general ‘right to work’ in Australia, regardless of what the ICESCR may say about the matter,” he said.

The commission also heard from Richard Stevens, who stated, as a “doctor” he had seen many “vaccine injured clients”, though Epworth had informed the commission he was an osteopath rather than an immunology expert.

Fair Work not convinced

Ultimately it was not enough to convince Colman, who stated in his findings “in my view, Epworth had a valid reason to dismiss Ms Stevens”.

“It was one related to her capacity to perform her role. Ms Stevens is entitled to her opinions about the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines.

“Ms Stevens was also within her rights to decline to become vaccinated or to provide Epworth with the information it requested from her.

“But her choices had the inevitable consequence that Ms Stevens rendered herself unable to perform her job.”

Hall & Wilcox partner Fay Calderone says her team have told clients time and time again that, where public health orders are in place, “vaccination is an inherent requirement of the position”.

Quite simply, she says, “no jab, no job subject to a medical contraindication under the legislation”.

But it’s not as easy as just showing an employee holding out their vaccine status the door, Calderone warns.

“Employers must of course afford employees procedural fairness in any process leading up to the termination of employment.”

However, employers can be “further emboldened” by yet another Fair Work decision that upholds the termination of an employee refusing vaccination as a valid reason.

“Ms Steven’s dismissal was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable, and that it was therefore not unfair. The application is dismissed,” Colman concluded.

COMMENTS

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Chris Fletcher
Chris Fletcher
1 month ago

Fair works are not fit for purpose as it is proven that the vaccines are dangerous and the efficacy of them is not what was reported.

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris Fletcher

Proven by whom, when and where – unless you are quoting some loony fringe websites with anecdotal ‘scientific’ evidence.

Des Carroll
Des Carroll
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven

As a start, watch this series of experts presenting at the Covid Under Question seminar organised by Senator Malcolm Roberts. The evidence is there and elsewhere for those who want to see from professionals like Dr David Martin and Dr Richard Fleming and many others who have risked and/or lost their careers for standing for the truth. COVID Under Question: Dr Phillip Altman (rumble.com)

Adrian
Adrian
1 month ago
Reply to  Des Carroll

Dr. David Martin a financial analyst, now that’s creditable? https://www.factcheck.org/2020/08/new-plandemic-video-peddles-misinformation-conspiracies/ I must say!
and Senator Malcolm Roberts is anti science and DH and other descriptive words, with the other red headed twit.
Richard Fleming you sight is as a informative person who was convicted of health care fraud.
I must say your information lacks a lot. Are you a religious person?

Belinda
Belinda
1 month ago

Absolutely disgusting decision by Coleman and Fairfwork and what they are condoning by this decision. We all know that double and triple vaxxed people get covid and do spread it to double and triple vaxxed people. There is a lot of research available now that proves the vax is ineffective and Pfizer CEO also admits this saying a 4th jab may be needed. With research out of Israel advising the 4th jab is ineffective when will it stop?

When will our government institutions and MP’s start to stand up for the people rather than continue to coerce people into taking an ineffective vax that is actually still in clinical trials until 2023.

The recent report released by Pfizer of which they tried to suppress for 75 years with the help of the FDA , however they were over ruled by the Supreme Court to release the report of which has over 38 pages of adverse reactions to the vaccines, some severe including death. MSM and Govt. should have been advising the public of the real risks of the vax, yet they still push it on ill informed people.

I do hope that Ms Stevens challenges the outcome if legally able to.

I’m disgusted beyond comprehension what is happening to our society and will not sit by and say nothing. Bad things happen when good people do nothing.

With Love and Light
Belinda

Des Carroll
Des Carroll
1 month ago
Reply to  Belinda

Agree. The evidence against taking this gene therapy is so ovewhelming now as emerging court cases internationally will show. This is why so many countries, even NZ!, are dropping mandates.

Jem
Jem
1 month ago
Reply to  Des Carroll

Dropping mandates wont save them now…..Nuremberg 2.0 is coming

Matthew
Matthew
1 month ago

This is outrageous. Coercion is different to force, and there is no valid consent when coercion is present. That’s enshrined in our Vic Charter of human rights.

We are overriding the very important principle of medical consent, in favour of coercion and government imposed medical treatments. This sets a dangerous precedent, and runs counter to our commitment as a country to the universal declaration of human rights. To say it’s a “choice”, is like saying you have a choice to sign a contract when there is a gun at your head. You may have a choice, but it’s not in the absence of undue pressure and coercion.

To deny someone the ability to work and their very means of survival, is the definition of coercion. It is not a free choice that respects our human rights and inherent dignity. All it does is damage the fabric of our society.

Hopefully we wake up to this and create a better and more humane future.

Ann
Ann
1 month ago

Imagine if ur boss said “have sex with me or loose ur job” and later said “she wasn’t forced to do anything, she just chose the alternative of not having a job”

Jem
Jem
1 month ago
Reply to  Ann

That’s Politics for ya ! Ahh to be a fly on the wall in Parliament house with a camera.

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