A report from Radio Jamaica's Dionne Jackson Miller
The Supreme Court has granted an application by Cari-Med to strike out the constitutional aspects of a case brought by five employees who claimed their constitutional rights were being violated by the company's COVID-19 vaccination policy.
The ruling was handed down today.
Cari-Med had issued a COVID-19 vaccination policy saying all employees have to present proof of vaccination against COVID or present a negative PCR test every two weeks at their own expense.
The five workers then went to court, claiming that their constitutional rights – such as the right to security of the person, the right to freedom of thought, conscience or belief, the right to religion and right to equality before the law – had been breached.
The company in turn made an application asking the court to strike out the constitutional aspects of the case. It argued that workers are not being forced to take the vaccine because they have the alternative of doing the PCR test.
It said the only issue that arises in the matter is whether they have a right under their employment contract to say that the workers have to take a PCR test every two weeks if they do not want to take the vaccine.
Cari-Med argued that this is an issue of private law.
The court agreed, calling the claim an action in contract “clad in black tie of constitutional redress” and said it would dismiss the constitutional aspects of the claim as an abuse of process.
The court said the workers had not presented evidence to prove their claims that constitutional rights had been breached. It contended that it was not enough to come to the Supreme Court and just say that your rights have been breached.
The court ruled that a claim in private or employment law is therefore adequate in this case.
As a result, the case can go forward if the workers choose, but as a claim of a breach of their employment contract.