Court upholds retailer's decision to furlough employee refusing virus vaccine, testing

Haifa labor court rules Shufersal's policy to ban workers refusing to comply with safety measures from company premises was reasonable, citing health concerns

Lital Dobrovitzky|
The Regional Labor Court in Haifa on Monday upheld a retail chain's decision to furlough an employee after she refused to either get vaccinated against COVID-19 or present a negative virus test on a regular basis.
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  • The dispute began when Israel's largest supermarket chain Shufersal announced at the beginning of March that starting April 4, 2021, it would only allow workers who hold a Green Pass — given to those who have received both vaccine doses or recovered from the virus — or those who present a negative coronavirus test every 72 hours back on company premises in order "to safeguard the health of both workers and costumers."
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    סניף שופרסל
    סניף שופרסל
    A branch of Shufersal's discount sub-chain Shufersal Deal
    (Photo: Eran Granot)
    Shufersal also stated that workers that cannot receive the vaccine for medical reasons will be able to request an exemption. The company clarified that workers who refuse to cooperate with the new policy, and are unable to either work from home or in an isolated work environment, will be placed on furlough and be subject to a hearing before dismissal if they continued to object.
    The employee, who works at the company as a cashier, filed a petition to the regional labor court, stating that the new policy infringed on her rights and added that she was advised to not receive the vaccine due to a past severe allergic reaction.
    Shufersal argued that the policy was reasonable and in accordance with laws put in place to ensure a safe environment for both its workers and customers.
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    A woman vaccinated against coronavirus at a clinic in Jerusalem
    (Photo: EPA)
    Judge Iris Rash rejected the cashier's petition, saying that Shufersal was obligated to protect the health and safety of both its employees and patrons. The court also ruled that the policy was reasonable since it was agreed upon by worker union representatives and that it offered sufficient alternatives to workers who wish to continue their employment at the company.
    The court also demanded the woman pay NIS 2,000 in legal costs.
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