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Group urges Purolator employees to join lawsuit over privacy, COVID issues

Image: RWN

Purolator violated the privacy rights of its employees when it demanded access to their personal medical information, a group of them is alleging.

The group of employees served Purolator with a cease-and-desist letter on April 25th, and is preparing to file a lawsuit later this month. There are both unionized and non-unionized members in the group, which currently numbers in the hundreds and which organizers hope will become thousands in the days ahead.

Many of the individuals were placed on unpaid leave of absence on January 10th  2022, when they declined to share their medical records including COVID vaccination status. One of them spoke to Road Warrior News on the condition of anonymity as they fear retribution from their employer.

“It’s nobody’s damn business what somebody’s medical status is, and Purolator is defying the privacy act federally and in every province by demanding this information,” the source said.

“The employer wants to circumvent the Privacy Act and coerce the individual to releasing that information. Once they do, then the act is circumvented because protection exists up to the point of the employee saying ‘No, I don’t want to do this’ or ‘Yes, I do want to do this.’ Employees were not told this. They were told ‘Do this, or you are out of a job.’

“We don’t want to leave anyone behind –

not one person should be left behind,” the source told RWN.

“Anyone interested should contact us

as soon as possible at [email protected].”

“So, what it really comes down to is not a question of whether somebody is vaccinated or not. It comes down to the to question of your right to keep your medical status private.”

Purolator responded to the cease-and-desist letter on April 26th in a letter stating, “The claims in your letter are factually inaccurate and have no legal merit. Purolator takes the health and safety of its employees extremely seriously, and its COVID-19 Safer Workplaces Policy was implemented in compliance with all applicable legislation. The reasonableness and validity of said policy has moreover been repeatedly affirmed in litigation. The Company will not be amending its COVID-19 Safer Workplaces Policy further to your letter, and will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of its employees,” wrote Simon-Pierre Paquette, Director, Labour, Employment & Litigation.

In its media release, the employees’ group notes that “Many government and private sector employers have rescinded their vaccine mandates for employees including in the health care sector.  Yet still, Purolator persists.”

Ontario’s former Privacy Commissioner, Dr. Ann Cavoukian told RWN in an earlier interview,  “The privacy associated with medical data is considered to be the most sensitive personal information in existence, and it should be very strongly protected, available to no one other than you and your doctor…you cannot have freedom without a solid foundation of privacy. There is no freedom or liberty without privacy.”

The source providing information to RWN says that persons who were put on unpaid leave of absence, or were coerced to receive a vaccination they did not want or to release their private medical information may be able to access restitution if the suit is successful. However, the lawsuit being prepared is not a class-action suit and so interested individuals must become part of the action.

“We don’t want to leave anyone behind – not one person should be left behind,” the source told RWN. “Anyone interested should contact us as soon as possible at [email protected].”