Daniel Shepherd, who developed pericarditis after his employer required him to take Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster, took his case to an employment tribunal, which ordered Shepherd’s employer to pay worker’s compensation benefits and reimburse him for medical expenses.
Daniel Shepherd, a 44-year-old father, was employed as a youth worker at Baptist Care South Australia in 2021 when he took two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, to comply with his employer’s mandate, according to Daily Mail.
Both jabs made him feel unwell but did not cause severe or debilitating symptoms.
Later the same year, Shepherd took a new job with the Department for Child Protection. In January 2022, his new employer required him to get a COVID-19 booster shot to keep his job.
On Feb. 25, 2022, a day after he was given the Pfizer mRNA booster, Shepherd developed severe chest pains.
The symptoms worsened until March 11, 2022, when fearing he was suffering a heart attack, he was rushed to a hospital where he was diagnosed with post-vaccine pericarditis.
A potentially life-threatening condition, pericarditis is characterized by inflammation of the pericardium, the sac-like membrane surrounding the heart.
Shepherd’s injury was severe enough to limit him to a few months of part-time administrative work. His symptoms persist to this day.
“Even today with just mild exertion [I get] chest pains and then it’s followed by fatigue, like severe fatigue,” he said.
During the legal proceedings, representatives of the Department for Child Protection acknowledged the injury was caused by the mRNA vaccine, but argued that because the mandate was a legal government directive, it was excluded from worker’s compensation liability under the South Australia Emergency Management Act.
But Judge Mark Calligeros, deputy president of the South Australia Employment Tribunal, disagreed. “It would be astonishing if parliament intended that an employee of the state, injured adhering to an EM (Emergency Management) Act direction, was to be precluded from receiving workers compensation.”
“I am not satisfied that parliament intended to deny compensation to employees of the state injured by heeding a vaccination mandate designed to protect the health and welfare of citizens,” he said in the ruling.
Calligeros said it would be “ironic and unjust” for the state to deny Shepherd financial and medical support when he was only “complying with the state’s desire to preserve public health.”
The judge ordered that Shepherd receive weekly income support payments and reimbursement of medical expenses. Under Australian law, that means the Department for Child Protection is liable for the costs.
Sydney human rights lawyer Peter Fam told journalist Rebekah Barnett the ruling was “a good decision” and an important precedent for holding employers accountable for injuries sustained as a result of workplace COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Under Australian worker’s compensation law, an employer is liable only if the workplace is “a significant contributing cause of the injury” and taking the vaccine must be “sufficiently related to his work and his employment,” Fam said.
Faletic, a vaccine-injured scientist and the co-founder and director of CONVERSE, an Australian COVID-19 vaccine injury support charity, said he was encouraged by the ruling. However, he added, “When it comes to people with unacknowledged diagnoses or unclear diagnosis, this is where people are struggling to get compensated.”
Lamenting the plight of many Australians who have been fighting in the courts, Faletic said they often receive “paltry compensation offers” that fail to cover their legal costs or employment losses.
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