Restaurant owners forcing staff to take vaccine ‘exposing themselves to legal action’

Wayne Munroe, QC, said yesterday the owners of Sushi Rokkan are exposing themselves to legal action as a result of a new policy that requires all employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by June 30, 2021, or possibly face disciplinary action, including dismissal. 

“If you force somebody to take medicine that is approved for emergency use only and it turns out there are some adverse consequences, then you will be liable,” Munroe told The Nassau Guardian.

“Nobody else will be liable but, in my judgment, you will be liable.”

He noted that the vaccines are not guaranteed to prevent individuals from getting infected with COVID-19 or infecting other people.

Munroe pointed out they simply stop individuals from getting very ill and dying.

“If somebody now has blood clots associated with this vaccine and dies, in my judgment, if their family came to me, I would sue the owners,” he said.

“What they are doing in effect is saying, let’s say there’s a risk that is associated with this, you’re making your employees take that risk. So, you must be liable if the risk manifests itself.”

Munroe added, “In my judgment again: if you fire somebody for refusing to take a vaccine approved only for emergency use, that would be wrongful dismissal. If the person tells you they’re not taking it for religious reasons, that would also be unfair dismissal and you would have to pay.”

He noted that he could fire all of his staff for no reason.

In doing that, he would have to pay them their notice and severance, Munroe pointed out.

“So, yes, they (the owners of Sushi Rokkan) can terminate people who refuse to take it, but then they would have to pay them notice and severance,” he said.

“The only other consideration that I would consider in my presentation is if the person isn’t taking a vaccine for religious reasons, then the government can’t discriminate against you.

“In a number of cases in the US involving the Citadel, which was an all-boys boarding school, and the Boy Scouts of America, we now see jurisprudence where the government can’t discriminate against you and the government can’t do business with a private business who discriminates for any of the reasons prohibited in the constitution.

“So, the question would be when their license comes up for renewal, could a case be made that the government cannot license a private entity who is going to discriminate against persons based on religious reasons?

“I would say a good case could be made that they would be out of business once their license comes up for renewal if they force people, who it’s against their religion to take vaccines, to take it.”

Sushi Rokkan is jointly owned by Michael Scott, QC, and his wife.

When asked to respond to individuals who may consider the policy unconstitutional, Scott replied, “That’s what the courts are there for, right? But, that doesn’t stop me from being proactive and it doesn’t stop me from acting in the interests of many as opposed to the interests of one or two.” 

Yesterday, Attorney General Carl Bethel said his office will have to examine the legal authority of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations in The Bahamas

He noted that the European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that policies of mandatory vaccinations are “reasonably justifiable” in a democratic society in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 15,000 people have received the first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine since vaccinations started in The Bahamas last month.

The prime minister and other government officials have repeatedly advised that it is not mandatory for Bahamians to get vaccinated, although they have urged them to do so.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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