Mon | Nov 29, 2021

Anti-vax lawsuits kick up a gear

Published:Thursday | October 28, 2021 | 4:36 AM

The Supreme Court is moving quickly to settle on whether it will grant injunctions sought by employees of two companies against the imposition of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies.

On Wednesday, a judge set full one-day hearings for next month in the separate cases filed by employees of pharmaceutical company Cari-Med Group and investment firm AIC Jamaica.

The Cari-Med matter will be heard on November 12, while AIC Jamaica’s will be argued on November 19.

The judge ordered that in both cases, all the parties are to file detailed submissions to allow for the substantive issues to be argued in November.

This is being done at a faster pace than what usually happens, a likely acknowledgment of the significance of the cases and their implications for the country’s industrial climate.

There may be more frenzied debate ahead after the Professor Gordon Shirley-chaired National COVID-19 Vaccination Operationalisation Task Force pushed for the implementation of a mandatory vax-or-test framework for public-sector employees.

However, that is likely to put the Government on a collision course with state workers with only 13 per cent of the Jamaican population fully vaccinated and opinion polls showing resistance or hesitancy of upwards of 65 per cent.

The country’s target of fully vaccinating two-thirds of the more than 2.8 million population by March 2022 is facing derailment.

Meanwhile, along with alleging breach of contract, the Cari-Med workers, including a pregnant woman, are claiming that the entity’s COVID policy breaches their constitutional right to life, among others.

The five employees from Cari-Med are being represented by attorney-at-law Yakum Fitz-Henley.

Meanwhile, the four AIC Jamaica employees are alleging contract violations only. They argue that there was no consultation.

The workers say they are not against vaccination but have reasons for not taking the jab at this time.

They are represented by Hadrian Christie.

Cari-Med has retained the firm Myers, Fletcher & Gordon, and AIC is being represented by Hart Muirhead Fatta.