The Federal Court has rejected a bid for an injunction to halt disciplinary action against Victorian public hospital nurses who allegedly lawfully exercised workplace rights to seek consultation under OHS laws on their employer’s mandatory vaccination policy.
Justice John Snaden, in reasons issued today, threw out the application by QNurses First, which pursued the case along with a member, Angela Kallista, a Monash Health nurse who claims to be a representative of 18 nurses facing disciplinary action.
QNurses First, which trades as the Nurses’ Professional Association of Queensland, argued that the disciplinary action prevented them from exercising their statutory OHS consultation right.
It followed Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, directing that nurses be vaccinated.
After the CHO made the order, Monash Health on October 11 issued what purported to be a lawful and reasonable direction for nurses to provide evidence by October 16 of double vaccination if they wished to continue working.
Justice Snaden said that Monash Health “has charted the course it has because it has formed the view that the CHO’s directions do not permit of any other alternative”.
“That conclusion seems very much to align with reality (I say without offering any comment upon the wisdom of the policy reasons underlying those directions). ”
“Moreover, the steps that Monash Health foreshadows are steps that it intends to take against all of its employees who have failed to comply with its Vaccination Direction, whether they have asserted a right to consultation or not.
“Under that light, there does not seem to be any reason at the moment to doubt Mr Stripp’s evidence that he has not been influenced toward any course of action because, or for reasons that include that, any of the relevant employees possesses or has exercised a workplace right.”
Justice Snaden concluded by suggesting that the union and Kallista’s case is “very weak (if it exists at all)”.
He found that the balance of convenience did not favour granting the injunction and dismissed the application.
No date has been set for the full trial.