‘It’s going to be messy’: Lawyers say mandatory vaccinations in workplaces is legal, but with limitations

'It's going to be messy': Lawyers say mandatory vaccinations in workplaces is legal, but with limitations
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The seats at Victoria’s Royal Athletic Park, home of the Victoria HarbourCats, sit empty and it’s been that way for two seasons now.

“We’ve had two summers off not playing baseball, so we want to do whatever we can do to make sure we’re happy and healthy and safe to play in 2022,” said Christian Stewart, Harbourcats assistant general manager.

In preparation for the 2022 season, the Victoria HarbourCats have announced that getting a COVID-19 vaccine will be mandatory for all staff, players and host families.

It’s a move that B.C.’s top doctor is encouraging.

“I think that is a business decision,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer.

“They don’t need an order from me to do that. Those are things that businesses, communities, groups can do together, to collectively reduce their risk.”

With both the province and federal government signalling their own vaccination mandates, it’s clear, the push for mandatory vaccinations is picking up steam.

The question that many are asking is if it is legal for employers to demand double vaccinations.

“I think there will be some challenges for employers but for the most part, it is something that is legal,” said Chris Drinovz, an employment lawyer with KSW Lawyers.

Legal that is, but with limits.

With no official law or legislation making it mandatory, the burden is on businesses.

“I think it’s going to be messy. I think there’s going to be a lot of terminations,” said Drinovz.

“I think in some of the larger workplaces, the unions will be challenging the mandatory vaccination policies and that will be fairly messy litigation that will go on for some time and end up in the courts for sure.”

The next move is proof of vaccination. How people will easily show they are double vaccinated, and how companies and businesses handle the process

Back at the ballpark, the HarbourCats say being double vaccinated is a home run not just for the business but for everyone.

“I think we have a responsibility to our fans to make sure that we are safe and that we are healthy so that we can continue to put on a good product at the park and continue to run Harbourcats baseball,” said Stewart.

With files from CBC.

READ MORE: Victoria HarbourCats and Nanaimo NightOwls requiring staff, players and host families to be fully vaccinated

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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