A plea for sympathy: Fair Work says 'stress' from dismissal is 'common'

Worker, who refused to comply with vaccine mandate, argues the emotional consequences took their toll

A plea for sympathy: Fair Work says 'stress' from dismissal is 'common'

A Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision has dismissed a belated unfair dismissal application even though the employee raised “stress” as a consideration to justify the delay.

The FWC said that “stress” or emotional consequences is not an “exceptional circumstance” to grant an extension of time.

The worker was employed as a naturopath in a Western Australian pharmacy. Around October 2021, the WA government implemented a vaccine mandate which required persons working at a pharmacy to be partially vaccinated against COVID-19 by 1 November 2021 and fully vaccinated by 1 December 2021.

The worker was dismissed by mid-November due to failure to comply with the vaccine mandate. She said that the vaccine mandate was “unlawful and unconstitutional” and argued it was an “experimental medical treatment.”

Aside from questioning the validity of the vaccine mandate, she said she was “confused” with the proper procedure of filing an unfair dismissal claim. She also said she was “extremely stressed leading up to and after her dismissal” and said “she had to move in with family” to take care of a relative who suffered from stroke.

In its decision, the FWC said it is “common” after dismissal to experience “economic consequences that necessitate employees changing their housing arrangements,” adding that it is also “commonplace” to take care of family.

It added that it is also “not unusual that employees will be stressed during a dismissal process and [after that].” The FWC said that the worker’s circumstances are “not exceptional circumstances either individually nor taken together.”

Since she failed to give “an acceptable reason for the delay,” the FWC dismissed her application. The decision was handed down on 13 January.

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