The Dangers of Wrongful Dismissal in the Age of Long-COVID

While much of the world is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic, the effects of the virus are still very much affecting the workplace. 

There is a staggering amount of the workforce in North America who have been rendered unable to work due to the ongoing effects of what has become known generally as Long COVID, although it is also known as Long COVID-19, COVID-19 Long Haul or Post-COVID-19 Syndrome.  Whatever you call it, Long COVID can cause damage to an individual’s organs, such as their brain, heart, skin, kidneys, and lungs.  There is also mounting evidence of significant neurological damage.  On top of the physical damage Long COVID leaves many people with ongoing emotional and mental health concerns.

The symptoms that can relate to long-covid are varied and can include some or all of the following symptoms:

  • “Brain Fog”
  • Difficulty with Memory and Concentration
  • Difficulty Breathing or Shortness of Breath
  • Reduced Stamina
  • Chronic Cough
  • Chronic Chest Pain
  • Loss of Sense of Taste or Smell
  • Dizziness
  • Chest or Stomach Pains
  • Depression or Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue or Muscle Weakness
  • Blood Clots
  • Neurological Complications
  • Hearing Loss

The practical result of Long COVID for employers is that a number of employees have been rendered disabled from working, some quite often over a gradual period of time, as opposed to the sudden onset of disability from a heart attack or accident. 

This can create a difficulty for employers in Canada. As the law currently stands, if an employee is dismissed resulting in a loss of benefits (long-term disability coverage), and thereafter is rendered disabled during period of time when they would have otherwise been entitled to notice (and as such still covered for long-term disability benefits), then the employer can be held liable for the loss of long-term disability benefits the employee would have been entitled to had their benefits still been in effect. The practical reality of this is that employers could be held liable not only for severance pay due to employees being wrongfully terminated, but potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to replace the long-term disability benefits the employee would have been entitled to.

Contact us regarding any questions related to employment disability.

Contributing Advisors