- Adelaide woman successfully sued former employer over vaccine policy
- Robyn Pskiet was sacked after failing to get vaccinated before date
- She was waiting for the Novavax jab to become available in Australia
- Ms Pskiet took company to Fair Work who awarded her nearly $3,500 in comp
A woman successfully sued her former employer for nearly $3,500 after being unfairly dismissed while waiting for the Novavax vaccine to become available.
Robyn Pskiet from Adelaide worked at food distributor Nocelle Foods for more than 16 years until she was sacked in January after refusing to get the jab.
She had told her manager she was waiting for the Novavax inoculation. At the time only AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines were available.
Despite that, Ms Pskiet was terminated on January 12 because she hadn’t provided a medical exemption for being unvaccinated.
Ms Pskiet was Nocelle Foods’ quality assurance manager, working at a warehouse in Pookraka for nearly two decades.
She was sacked just eight days before the Therapeutic Goods Administration provisionally approved the use of the Novavax jab in Australia, with doses given out a month later.
The Adelaide woman took her case to the Fair Work Commission, arguing the food distributor’s vaccination policy was not ‘reasonable or lawful’, given that the company never allowed the worker to work from home while she waited for access to her choice of vaccine.
The board’s commissioner Peter Hampton agreed her dismissal was unfair, largely because of the timing and manner in which the policy was applied to Ms Pskiet.
His findings, which were released in July, found the policy itself was lawful and reasonable `but found the Adelaide woman couldn’t have worked from home given her position as quality assurance.
Ms Pskiet said she wasn’t ‘anti-vax’ but instead ‘pro-choice’ and wished to wait for the Novavax jab.
‘Although some elements of her work could be performed from home, this was not a viable or productive medium or longer-term option,’ Mr Hampton said in his report.
He said the employee should have been given ‘proper consideration’ and granted extended leave because of her position.
‘I also accept that it would not have been reasonable for Ms Pskiet to have been granted extended indefinite leave, including because of the nature of her position,’ Mr Hampton said.
‘However, the prospect of the Novavax vaccine was real at the point of the dismissal and the fact of dismissing the applicant had the effect of completely removing Ms Pskiet as a resource for the business.
‘The timing and related application of the policy to Ms Pskiet means that I cannot be satisfied that, at the point of termination, a valid reason existed.’
Ms Pskiet was awarded $3,462 plus superannuation in compensation as a result of the judgement.