A group of more than 200 Canada Post employees is mounting legal action against Canada Post over its COVID-19 vaccine policy, said organizer Josy Martin.
Martin spoke with the Western Standard on Wednesday and said workers who "wrongfully and unlawfully had their occupational health and safety rights, charter rights and genetic protection rights seized in an authoritarian fashion" are taking action against their employer, the Canada Post Corporation.
According to the Posties for Freedom website, the group has been "working to restore the rights of all federal postal workers."
Martin, a Canada Post employee who, like thousands of others, was placed on administrative leave without pay, founded Posties for Freedom to create a "community of loving and dedicated employees coming together to support one another."
Martin said she and other members within the group, hope to bring awareness to what she calls direct violations to sections of the Canada Labour Code, Occupational Health and Safety legislation, and rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
She also highlighted that employees on leave without pay have been cut off from their employee benefits, yet the costs of pensionable hours, benefits and the employer portion of the pension contributions are continuing to accrue.
"These employees are looking at thousands of dollars in arrears and pension payments that they would have had to, you know, they have to give back to the corporation," said Martin.
"The people on leave without pay, they're receiving pay cheques with negative $700, negative, you know, amounts because again, all of these employee benefits and everything, have to be paid back."
She said for employees who didn't ask for this leave, "it's so depressing to be treated this way."
Martin said Posties for Freedom has hired Calgary lawyer Leighton Grey from law firm Grey Wowk Spencer LLP to assist the group with legal guidance and representation adding arbitration with their union is over and the employees feel they have no other options.
"The Posties group are part of a cohort of cases we handle, comprised of more than 1000 workers harmed by federally imposed vaccine mandates," Grey told the Western Standard.
Grey said the companies include CN Rail, CP Rail, WestJet, Purolator, Bank of Canada, and Canada Post.
"These claims all sue both the employer and the Government of Canada with each individual plaintiff seeking $1M in aggravated and punitive damages," said Grey.
"These cases are all being sued in the Federal Court of Canada. The CN and CP cases have gone into case management, and so we expect these other cases to follow a similar course. Our hope is to enter into settlement negotiations with the Defendants, but at this point, it is not clear what legal approach they will take to these claims."
Grey said all the Plaintiffs are claiming their human rights have been violated by the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policies and has exposed them to the "risk of serious bodily harm and even death."
"Most of the plaintiffs were also placed on involuntary unpaid leaves of absence and dis-entitled from claiming EI benefits," said Grey.
"The Charter violations claimed are pursuant to s.2(a), s.7, and s.15 of the Charter. The lawsuits seek a declaration that these mandates violate the Charter and then seek damages pursuant to s.24(1) of the Charter."
Martin said she hopes she can raise awareness about the group to other postal or federal workers who have been negatively affected by the vaccine mandates and who are looking for support or to join the legal action being organized.
On November 29, several thousand postal workers, along with tens of thousands of other federal workers, were put on leave without pay with the introduction of the federal COVID-19 vaccine policy.
Although the federal government announced it would "suspend" the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for federal employees as of June 20, Martin said she and many others have not been given clear instruction for their return to work.