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Use of International Human Rights Laws in refusing to comply with COVID-19 workplace vaccination policies

May 9, 2022 Leslie Smith

In the fall of 2021, Canadian businesses rolled out their COVID-19 vaccination policies most of which stated that job loss would befall employees who refused to take the C19 jab. In response, many workers served their employers with Notices of Liability prepared by various self-help groups. Usually, the notices referred to the Nuremberg Code which, inter alia, states that in the case of medical experimentation, “voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.”

It's important to note that a fundamental tenet of Canadian common law and statute law clearly states that duress or coercion, vitiates consent. In other words, where one is coerced into “consenting” (when they are threatened with job-loss), that consent is not free or voluntary. This is the essence of the Nuremberg Code.

It’s important to note however, that the Nuremberg Code itself is merely a guiding principle or statement and effectively, has no legal force or effect anywhere in the world. It is not law.

However, that is not the end of the story.

The principle of informed consent outlined in the Nuremberg Code is reiterated in the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (UNICCPR). This Covenant is a multi-national treaty that commits signatory states including Canada (which signed it on May 19, 1796) to respect the civil and political rights set out in that document. Thus, Canada committed to ensuring that the rights and privileges cited in the Covenant, will be adhered to within Canadian (including provinces and territories) laws. We see these principles enshrined in human rights legislation in Canada.

One such right in the Covenant is cited at Article 7 –

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.”

The C19 shots are experimental. That is not in dispute. Health Canada granted the manufacturers, emergency use authorization of the experimental jabs, upon conditions including that the manufacturers had to report on their own studies during the experimental phase (which we are still in).

But – and here is why I like the Covenant – Article 7 is a non-derogable right. Meaning that even in a national emergency like C19, the rights in Article 7 cannot be derogated from or dispensed with (see Article 4 which lists Article 7 as one of several non-derogable rights).

Therefore, any argument that the alleged public emergency in Canada somehow over-rides or trumps the so-called “consent” of workers who took the jab to save their jobs, is a specious argument that has no merit, and offends Articles 4 and 7 of the Covenant.

Make sure to use that argument when you have the chance.

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Core Beliefs

I strive each day to live and work by one principle - treat others as I would want to be treated. In my practice, that translates into 4 key values:

I do what I say I will do and I am honest and transparent at all times with clients, staff, opposing counsel, the court and anyone else. I provide my clients with an honest assessment of their case. If I make a commitment to a client, I keep it. Integrity also means that my clients know before they retain me what my fee structure is. If a client appears unsure of whether or not to retain me or what to do, I tell them to go home and think about it first.


Employees having difficulty at the workplace are often in considerable emotional distress when they arrive at my office. Employers can be as well. Employment issues involve human interactions, which necessarily involve emotions that sometimes need healing. I enjoy helping my employee clients think and feel differently about their situations. I also enjoy helping employers understand that their employees need to be treated with respect, dignity, kindness and fairness, no matter what is going on.


I have an organized and logical mind that works like a trip hammer, especially in court. I can very quickly sort out the relevant facts and issues in order to resolve my client's cases efficiently. Excellence also means to approach matters with a large measure of practicality, always thinking about what is best for my client and their family and/or business. Finally, excellence also means behaving with civility. I have learned to be hard on the issues and soft on the people - a winning combination.


I have also been blessed with discernment and intuition that allows me to often "know" what is really going on with my clients. Equally, my own life journey has led me through difficulties in personal relationships so I understand how upsetting a broken employment relationship is. My own struggles married with discernment and intuition allows me to treat my client holistically, not just legally. This is the thing that sets me apart from most other lawyers, so say my clients.