“Insubordination” : Worker fired for refusing payment for illegal abortion

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Sean Murphy *

Introduction

Cecilia Moore was a probationary employee of the British Columbia welfare department when a client asked for medical coverage for an abortion. The abortion would have been a criminal offence under the law in force at the time, and was, in the view of the attending physician, not only unnecessary for medical reasons but actually contra-indicated.

Moore refused to approve coverage on the grounds that the client was ineligible under departmental policy. However, her supervisor ordered her to sign authorization for coverage. Moore persisted in her refusal, citing policy, the criminal law and her own conscientious objections to abortion. Although rated as “an excellent worker”, she was dismissed.

Seven years later the BC Council of Human Rights ruled that Moore had been a victim of ‘adverse effect discrimination’ awarding $7,703.80 for compensation in lost wages and $1,000.00 as compensation for “humiliation.”

What follows is a summary of the facts drawn from the reported case and a summary of evidence prepared for the hearing. [Full text]

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