Home Workplace Legislation/Press Releases Former Starbucks shift supervisor alleges wrongful dismissal over COVID-19 and cancer symptoms: Samfiru Tumarkin

Former Starbucks shift supervisor alleges wrongful dismissal over COVID-19 and cancer symptoms: Samfiru Tumarkin

by HR Law Canada

A former shift supervisor at Starbucks Canada, Lisa Pedersen, has filed a claim stating that she was wrongfully terminated by the multinational coffee chain.

The claim alleges that Pedersen was fired for allegedly violating COVID-19 policies and food safety standards, according to a press release from Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

Pedersen, a single mother of three, is battling a terminal form of blood cancer and lost both her life insurance policy and a job that provided her with the flexibility to care for her disabled son, according to the law firm.

Aaron Levitin, an associate at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP and Pedersen’s lawyer, emphasized the importance of Starbucks making the right decision and standing by its position as a conscientious employer that takes care of its partners.

Pedersen began her employment at a Starbucks location on Stonegate Drive in Airdrie, Alta., in August 2017. Throughout her tenure, she consistently received positive performance reviews and even earned the prestigious “Partner of the Quarter” award, according to the law firm.

During the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pedersen’s manager recognized her contributions in keeping two additional Starbucks locations operational during staffing shortages, according to the law firm.

Expressing her love for working at Starbucks, Pedersen described it as her dream job that enabled her to support her family both financially and medically. She valued the relationships she built within her community through serving customers.

The claim highlights the flexible work schedule provided by Starbucks, which allowed her to care for her son, Gage. Gage suffers from various conditions, including global developmental delay, vocal cord paralysis, and requires leg braces and a wheelchair.

In April 2021, Pedersen told her manager she was feeling unwell. Despite her symptoms, her manager required her to continue working. As a precaution, Pedersen underwent a COVID-19 test through Alberta Health, which yielded a negative result. However, in May 2021, she was terminated without cause.

Following her termination, Pedersen consulted her optometrist and had bloodwork done, revealing that she has myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN), an incurable and rare type of blood cancer that significantly reduces her life expectancy. The symptoms she experienced before her termination were later attributed to MPN.

Pedersen contacted Starbucks after her diagnosis to inform them that her symptoms were related to blood cancer rather than COVID-19. However, she did not receive a response from the company.

With her termination, Pedersen lost her life insurance policy through Starbucks, and due to her cancer diagnosis, she is unable to secure a new policy from other insurance providers.

None of the allegations have been tested or proven in court, and the information in this story came solely from a press release issued by the law firm.

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