Dismissal Upheld: Refusal to Comply with Vaccination Directive.
The applicant’s dismissal was upheld as the Commission found his refusal to comply with respondent employer's lawful vaccination directive constituted a valid reason for termination, concluding that he was dismissed.
The applicant, who served as a Relationship Manager at the Roman Catholic Bishop of Bunbury, was dismissed due to his failure to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or an exemption as required by respondent's vaccination policy. This decision followed a series of communications and discussions between the applicant and respondent regarding his refusal to comply with the vaccination policy and his requests to work from home or take long service leave. Despite multiple interactions, the applicant did not provide the required documentation, leading the respondent to terminate his employment. It did, however, offer him a final opportunity to respond before making the decision, which he did not utilise.
In response, the applicant claimed that his dismissal was unfair and sought reinstatement. The respondent argued that the applicant's conduct effectively repudiated his employment by preventing him from performing his duties, thus concluding his employment. The respondent contended that it did not dismiss the applicant. The applicant, on the other hand, disagreed with this interpretation, asserting that his employment was terminated at the initiative of the respondent.
Commission Walkington ultimately dismissed the applicant's claim, concluding that his conduct justified the termination of his employment. The Commissioner found that the respondent had dismissed the applicant at its own initiative because, in its view, he could not fulfill the inherent requirements of his role. This meant that the applicant was dismissed. The Commission emphasised the applicant's duty to follow a lawful and reasonable directive from the respondent, highlighting the organisation's legitimate basis for implementing the vaccination policy as a COVID-19 safety measure. Consequently, the applicant's refusal to comply with this directive alone constituted a fair dismissal, rendering him unable to fulfill the requirements of his role.
The decision can be read here.