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Resort employee says he was fired because he has hepatitis

Saturday, February 27th, 2010 | 6:00 am

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By Joe Fries

Whether it was poor health or a poor work ethic that caused a man to lose his job as a seasonal maintenance worker at Lake Okanagan Resort will be investigated at a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing.

Joseph Rodrigue Vallee claims he was fired because he has Hepatitis C, which made his co-workers so uncomfortable that they began putting their coffee cups in Ziploc bags.

The resort, meanwhile, claims he said he was available for full-time work when he was hired on March 18, 2009, but never worked more than 40 hours in a two-week period.

All of the claims and responses are contained in documents filed with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and obtained by Kelowna.com.

Vallee alleges he was fired on June 9, 2009, because of his physical disability, even though he told the company when he was hired that he would only be available two or three days per week because of his health problems.

He claims his foreman told him at the time of his dismissal that other employees were “afraid of catching my Hepatitis C.” The complainant also says co-workers, in addition to wrapping their coffee cups, were “telling me not to touch anything they would touch.”

On its behalf, the resort says Vallee was hired on the understanding that he was available for full-time work. In an unsigned letter, ostensibly penned on June 10, the company’s human resources manager writes that Vallee’s foreman told her that Vallee “had medical issues and could not be relied upon to report for scheduled shifts.”

In one 10-day period, the letter continues, Vallee “had not shown up for a single shift. He also had not bothered to call his supervisor to let him know he wasn’t coming in for work.”

The letter goes on to say that Vallee’s foreman wanted the circumstances of the dismissal documented, “as he anticipated problems from (Vallee’s) attitude and outbursts, all about being discriminated against, not the fact that he never showed up for work as scheduled.”

On Dec. 24, 2009, tribunal members dismissed Lake Okanagan Resort’s application to dismiss the complaint. A hearing is now set for three days in May.

If the tribunal rules in Vallee’s favour, it can order a range of remedies, including financial compensation for lost wages.

joe@kelowna.com
250-575-4303

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5 Responses to “Resort employee says he was fired because he has hepatitis”

  1. Sophie says:
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    Seriously don’t think someone with HEP C should be working with the public as it is contagious. Just wondering if this resort knew that he had HEP C before he was hired. And what area did he work in? Hopefully not the kitchen or anyting to do with food?

  2. CatherineCC says:
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    Hepatitis C’s only form of transmission is in blood to blood contact. Which isn’t an issue in the context of working with the public or even in a kitchen.
    If you cut yourself while making a meal, you throw it away, just as you (hopefully) would if you were not hep C positive.

    Hep A, a different story.

    It would be nice if people informed themselves a tiny bit about diseases before making judgments.

    I’m not hep c positive, just… kind of tired of seeing people act like idiots.

  3. Sophie says:
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    Well excuse me but I still woulnd’t want this guy working with food!

  4. Sheila says:
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    CatherineCC is correct, hep C is only passed when infected blood gains direct access to the bloodstream of another person.

    If you feel that such a situation could occur in a kitchen in anything but the most bizarre of circumstances, perhaps you are the one who should not be working with food.

  5. Tina says:
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    Hepatitis C is transmitted by blood-to-blood contact . It is not trasmitted by ingesting contaminated food.Hepatitis C is not passed to other people by sharing kitchen utensils, glasses, or dishes. Further, hepatitis C it is not spread by casual contact with others.

    There is a lot of confusion about the different hepatitis viruses. Because hepatitis A can be passed through food, people in the food service industry sometimes get confused and think that all hepatitis viruses can be transmitted through food. This is not true. Again, it is only hepatitis A that is transmitted through food, not hepatitis C or hepatitis B.

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link

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