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Kelowna nurse sues after being terminated for not getting COVID vaccine

Sally Riske claims that her employer did not have just cause to terminate her for not getting vaccinated
Sally Riske is suing her former employer for ‘constructive dismissal’ (Okanagan Health Surgical Center)

Sally Riske, a 67-year-old Registered Nurse, is suing her former employer for ‘wrongful dissmissal’.

She was employed by the Okanagan Health Surgical Center in Kelowna for 18 years before being losing her job in October 2021 over a newly implemented COVID-19 vaccination policy.

Riske pleads that she was ‘constructively dismissed’ because the terms of her employment were changed to include a mandatory vaccination without her consent.

In March 2020, COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. At this time Riske was able to continue working while following safety protocols, including wearing a mask and socially distancing.

According to court documents, at the end of August 2021, the Surgical Center announced a new policy that necessitated employees receive a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.

Failing to become vaccinated, on Oct. 4, 2021, Riske claims she was placed on an unpaid leave of absence from work.

Riske states that she was not given sufficient notice of termination and that her employeer did not have just cause for placing her on unpaid leave.

Prior to her dissmissal Riske alleges she complied with other necessary health and safety protocols including regular testing, masking, and social distancing.

Riske claims that she was never subject to an agreement that allowed her employers to mandate the COVID vaccine. She states that the health center was not issued a provincial heath order and was not forced to implement the vaccination policy.

In the court documents, Riske states that the vaccination policy was innefective and unreasonable and that the workplace was sufficiently safe prior to to its implementation and that the policy infringed on her privacy rights.

While employed as a registered nurse Riske received an annual salary of $70,000 per year and additional benefits and vacation pay.

Riske is seeking reparations for her dismissal. She is requesting damages for wrongful dismissal equivalent to 24 months of notice, special damages for out-of-pocket expenses incurred while trying to obtain alternate employment, and compensation for court fees.

Okanagan Health Surgical Center has not responded to the claim and none of the accusations have been proven in court.

READ MORE: Central Okanagan Board of Education adopts COVID vaccine mandate for staff

READ MORE: B.C. records 18 more COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, 1,776 new cases


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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

I'm a reporter in the beginning stages of my career. I joined the team at Capital News in November 2021...
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