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Sask. worker fired after submitting order from 'QAnon queen' gets his job back

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A Saskatchewan labour arbitrator has ordered a Regina-based company to reinstate two employees who were fired for refusing to follow its COVID-19 policy.

Ward Rubin and Dallas Shuparski were both fired from the Co-op Refinery in late January 2022 after several months of progressive discipline over their refusal to follow a company policy requiring employees to submit either proof of vaccination or the result of twice-weekly rapid antigen tests.

According to the report from arbitrator Daniel Ish, both were long-term employees with good work records and “an unblemished disciplinary record.”

When the policy was introduced in the fall of 2021, Shuparski and Rubin were the only two out of 620 active in-scope employees who did not comply.

In mid-November when it became apparent the two weren’t following the rules, they were placed on a paid leave of absence pending an investigation.

Rubin told his managers he wasn’t comfortable sharing his personal medical information.

Shuparski took a more varied approach. He told his employer the policy went against his Charter rights, “as well as against the Nuremberg Code.”

Just before his first meeting with managers, he sent them a package of nine documents he printed off the internet, including a cease and desist order signed “We the People” which came from Romana Didulo, the self-styled "Queen of Canada."

Another document — apparently from a source in the U.S. as it references the 14th Amendment — claimed a religious exemption from the policy. Shuparski wrote his name and the name of Calvary Chapel in Regina in blank spaces included in the document.

Shuparski told the labour arbitrator he did “extensive research” about COVID-19 testing and that he was concerned there were aborted fetuses among the ingredients.

“These things go against the word of god and the bible,” he said.

Based on manager’s notes from five meetings prior to his dismissal, Ish says Shuparski never raised his religious exemption claim to his employer, other than the template letter he found online and included in his submission.

Ish felt Shuparski’s religious exemption claims were half-hearted and hard to believe, but he said the company put both men on a track to termination without considering other options. Their shop stewards had asked the company to consider offering indefinite unpaid leave while the policy was in effect.

“In my view, this response was unreasonable, and the employer did not have just cause to terminate these two grievors,” Ish writes.

The company had a duty to consider less intrusive ways of addressing its concerns, he says.

“I arrive at this conclusion aware that the reasons for non-compliance by the grievors were not overly compelling, since submitting to the relatively benign rapid antigen test minimally affects interests of bodily integrity or personal privacy.”

The tests were conducted by a third-party, effectively firewalling employees' medical information from their employer.

Shuparski told the labour arbitrator he was expecting to be fired, but he felt responsible to teach his employers what he had learned online from others who objected to COVID-19 vaccines and testing.

“I wanted to inform them and educate them so they’d do better research and help themselves,” he said.

In his testimony to the labour arbitration board, Shuparski said his decision not to comply with the policy led to serious difficulties between him and the mother of their child.

He said he would have accepted an indefinite leave without pay if offered.

“He said he wanted to return to work and would follow policies and procedures if he went back,” the report says. “He did not specifically indicate that he would follow a [similar] vaccination policy.”

Prior to the vaccination policy, Shuparski told the hearing that he did wear a mask at work, which was an employer requirement.

Ish concluded the two employees were wrongly terminated. He ordered the company to reinstate them “as soon as practicable.” 

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