explainer

Lainie got vaccinated against COVID. When her employer found out, she was fired.

Meet Lainie Chait. She got the sack for being vaccinated. 

Not the response you’d expect from an employer in a pandemic where public health messaging has persistently encouraged people to vaccinate. 

Or from an organisation that vehemently claim to be pro-choice and not anti-vax.

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Lainie worked in the wellness industry as a client consultant for The Church Of Ubuntu. Not a conventional business, but a religion, which is able to use its rights as a religion to hire or fire a person whose beliefs are at odds with their creed.

According to their official spokesperson, Paul Robert Burton, who is a volunteer and a pastor for the Church of Ubuntu, the organisation operates with a "spiritual component and a wellness clinic as the business function. We provide plant-based medicine, diet education and nutritional advice". 

Mr Burton added that many who sought the services of their wellness clinic were unhappy with their pharmaceutical treatments. 

They do however provide products and services for the wider vaccinated community.

Something Ms Chait finds bewildering.

"That is my main gripe with them. The hypocrisy of firing staff for making a health choice but still taking money off vaccinated people and wanting to help them. That's the part that doesn’t align with the dismissal. It's absolutely inconsistent," she tells Mamamia

Late last year after hearing of one of their employees or ‘members’ received a COVID injection, The Church of Ubuntu held a special meeting to decide how this aligned with their philosophy. They decided it didn’t.

It was decided that anyone who received a COVID vaccination was no longer able to be a Member of the Church of Ubuntu. 

For Lainie that meant the job she’d had for the last year was kaput. Lainie claims she wasn’t aware that she was a member of the Church.

She thought she was a contractor for the business.

"I was working for the Wellness Clinic – not the Church. It’s separate from the church. The Church is just an umbrella so they can do God’s service and sell plant medicine," she says. 

Mr Burton responded by refuting Ms Chait’s claim. "I thought she was aware. Everyone was aware."

Ms Chait also claimed she had never been shown the constitution of The Church of Ubuntu or been informed as to what the conditions were around their views on vaccination.

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"I worked remotely. No one ever asked me anything. It was very unstructured." 

On accessing the Constitution just recently she was confused by the mission statement which she believed to be at odds with her dismissal which clearly states: We strive… to encourage individual self responsibility for health and well-being. 

"I was hired as a client consultant for The Church of Ubuntu because of my epilepsy," she says. 

"That was part of the reason why they hired me. They know my background. Part of my own treatment is medicine and 90 per cent is lifestyle and mindset. 

"The boss knows I live and manage it daily. I chose to get vaccinated because of my epilepsy. And because I want to be able to travel and see my Mum." 

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Lainie was informed of her dismissal in a bizarre and very public way with a voice file on a work Facebook chat saying: "Guys it has come to my attention Lainie has had the vaccination. I cannot reiterate it more than now to say that no one can be vaccinated and work for this company. So work it out. I leave it to you."

"I got no phone call. Nothing. He not only outed me on the chat he didn't’ ask my consent. He didn’t ask why I had been vaccinated," says Lainie.

"He also laid off another woman who had worked there for years. I felt 100 per cent discriminated against. He can’t play God with my personal health – it's just his opinion."

She later received a letter from the Church’s Vice President Karen Burge which stated: "It is the position of the COU that to receive the COVID-19 /SARS-CoV-2 injection consciously and deliberately with intent is in contradiction with our Constitution and contrary to our position on what is required of us by our Lord God and Creator."

It’s the protections given to religious organisations that make them exempt from the kind of discriminatory actions that others would be prosecuted for that form the concerns of the Parliamentary inquiry into the federal government’s Religious Discrimination Bill.

The purpose of religious discrimination protections is to safeguard religious belief. But what happens when it’s used to transit across to political beliefs?

"I got caught in the political crossfire. It’s not religious," she says. 

Although offered work with Church of Ubuntu through ‘affiliates’ Ms Chait is seeking damages with the assistance of her solicitor Mark Swivel.

Mr Swivel says, "There was no consultation and no indication prior to the termination that this was an issue. Just on the grounds of general fairness the Church has an enormous problem because it's a completely unreasonable condition of employment.

"The Church’s statement of being pro-choice instead of anti-vax is an example of what we see in the dissembling and dishonesty of opponents of vaccination and public health policy." 

Feature Image: Supplied.