Court rules two PPA officers dismissal over vaccine refusal was illegal

Tallinn Administrative Court and Circuit Court building, on Pärnu mnt.
Tallinn Administrative Court and Circuit Court building, on Pärnu mnt. Source:

A court on Wednesday found that two Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) employees were illegally dismissed after declining to get fully vaccinated against Covid.

The court individuals also awarded compensation. The same court, the first-tier Tallinn Administrative Court, had made a similar ruling on the same day in relation to the dismissal of two Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) personnel, who had reportedly refused to get vaccinated against Covid.

The Tallinn Administrative Court declared the PPA directive under whose provisions the two officers were fired, due to Covid vaccine refusal, and also granted the sacked officers compensation of four and six months' salary respectively.

Lawyer Jaanika Reilik-Bakhoff of law firm Pallo&Partnerid, acting for the two dismissed officers, said after the ruling was made that: "At the moment, approximately 60 people from among PPA employees and staff who are involved in legal disputes."

"Most of them managed to keep their jobs, by making repeated requests for preliminary legal protection via the courts," she went on.

"However, it is by the ruling today that they are no longer required to be vaccinated (the requirement for PPA officers to get vaccinated was subsequently rescinded – ed.)," she added, noting that compensation should be provided for costs.

Reilik-Bakhoff said her firm is awaiting a Supreme Court decision in relation to two vaccine disputes, while proceedings have been suspended in respect of two other

"As a result of the ruling], the decisions made on Wednesday regarding the release of two employees are of significant importance, as it is clear from the court's reasoning that in reality, the directive mandating vaccination could have no legal basis - however, the court costs incurred by the illegal directive should be compensated by the PPA. I would also expect PPA to finally provide solutions to its former and current employees in the form of resolving matters and admitting mistakes," Reilik-Bakhoff continued.

The administrative court found that the now-lapsed directive requirement cannot on its own be considered a direct vaccination obligation, but its provision that those who did not get vaccinated be dismissed from the PPA in effect equated to mandatory vaccination, in terms of its effects.

The court also found that stricter measures such as those imposed during the pandemic, in 2020 and 2021, do not automatically mean that vaccine requirements can be imposed on staff in the same way and regardless of risk analysis.

The application and feasibility of measures and the consequences of their non-implementation must be considered on a case-by-case basis for each individual, the court said.

A similar decision by the same court on the same day found that two EDF personnel who refused vaccination had been illegally dismissed.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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