A pharmacist has filed a lawsuit against London Drugs, claiming the Richmond-based company wrongfully dismissed her over its COVID-19 vaccination policy.
Vancouver resident Lina Reid – who worked as a staff pharmacist for the defendant, London Drugs, for 16 years – was placed on unpaid leave for an undetermined length of time on Nov. 1, 2021, because she was not fully vaccinated and did not consent to regular COVID-19 testing, according to her notice of civil claim filed Jan. 28 in BC Supreme Court.
London Drugs announced last August that, as of Nov. 1, 2021, all employees would be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment, or alternatively be regularly tested.
The policy was expected to extend to any future booster shots as recommended by public health.
But Reid claims in her lawsuit that there is no agreement or term of employment between herself and London Drugs that allowed it to mandate she undergo a medical procedure – either vaccination or testing – or for the company to unilaterally place her on an unpaid leave of absence.
Reid, who was 60 years old at the time, also claims her employment was terminated on Nov. 1 – when she was placed on unpaid leave – and is now suing for damages for wrongful dismissal.
In her lawsuit, she claims London Drugs has been able to operate safely since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 by following public health guidelines, including social distancing, masking, contact tracing and health questionnaires.
“The plaintiff specifically pleads that the unilateral decision to now require vaccines and testing could not have been a bona-fide occupational requirement as the defendant has repeatedly demonstrated it can safely operate without such a requirement,” the lawsuit reads.
“The point is further underscored by the fact that the British Columbia government has specifically chosen not to impose a vaccine mandate on the defendant or the general population.”
In an emailed statement to the Richmond News, London Drugs said it wouldn’t comment on outstanding legal disputes with a specific employee, but pointed out it has numerous health and safety policies in place to protect staff and customers.
“All employees, including pharmacists, are currently required to show evidence of full vaccination or demonstrate negative COVID status through ongoing screening,” the company said.
“We are confident our health and safety measures are appropriate, justified and strike a fair and measured balance protecting the rights of our employees and creating a safe work and retail environment for all. London Drugs is confident its workplace safety policies would be upheld in any court proceedings.”
The company said it will be filing a response to Reid’s claim “in due course.”