Own Telstra shares? Here's why the telco faces new legal action

A class action has been filed against the telecommunications giant. Could it derail its COVID-19 mitigation actions?

| More on:
a judge sitting in a blurred background reaches forward to strike his gavel on the strikeplate on his judge's bench.

Image source: Getty Images

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) share price could be under pressure in the coming months as it fights new legal action brought on by a former employee.

Former staffer Jodi Wruck, according to The Australian, has filed a case in the Federal Court against the telecommunications giant for its COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

Wruck was fired in December after she refused to be vaccinated, according to court documents.

A Telstra spokesperson declined to comment on specific cases but did confirm to The Motley Fool that staff with regular public contact were required to be inoculated against coronavirus.

"Under Telstra's COVID vaccination policy, around 8,300 roles in Australia require a COVID vaccination given the increased risk of infection due to the type of work and regular contact with others while on the job," the spokesperson said.

"This includes those who regularly interact with customers and other members of the public, those who work with vulnerable people and communities, and those who need to be onsite, such as our E000 contact centres."

The spokesperson added that state and territory public health orders also required those performing essential telco work to be vaccinated.

Telstra shares dipped 0.77% to trade at $3.89 on Thursday afternoon.

Denied consultation on vaccinations?

Wruck is claiming that "at least seven" staff members have signed on as plaintiffs, reaching the legal minimum to be classified as a class action. 

The group is claiming that Telstra employees were not consulted and denied a chance to discuss with their doctors as to whether they should receive any COVID-19 vaccine.

The company spokesperson refuted that there was no discussion.

"We undertook extensive consultation before we introduced our vaccination policy, including extending the period for consultation and making changes to our policy approach based on constructive feedback from our employees and unions," said the spokesperson.

"Since introducing our vaccination policy in September 2021 we've had a very small number of people who have decided not to get vaccinated."

The legal action is seeking orders to stop Telstra from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate and for the plaintiffs to receive damages.

Wruck's case claims her former employer also violated anti-discrimination laws because her advocacy for "freedom of choice" about "what to put in her body" was a "political belief".

Telstra maintains that "the vast majority" of staffers have been supportive of the vaccination rules.

"We've so far given away the equivalent of $5m worth of incentives to over 20,000 employees who are fully vaccinated," said the telco's spokesperson.

"We remain confident the right approach has been taken to protect our employees and customers, and is consistent with recent legal decisions regarding vaccination."

Motley Fool contributor Tony Yoo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns and has recommended Telstra Corporation Limited. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

More on Communication Shares

man using a mobile phone
Communication Shares

Telstra shares: Buy or sell?

Is it time to buy or sell the telco giant's shares? Here's what analysts think.

Read more »

A woman sits at her computer with her chin resting on her hand as she contemplates her next potential investment.
Communication Shares

3 overlooked numbers key to the Telstra share price

What are investors underestimating about Telstra?

Read more »

A woman peers through a bunch of recycled clothes on hangers and looks amazed.
Share Market News

Time to pounce? 1 phenomenal ASX stock that hasn't been this cheap in a while

Now might be the time to look at the Telco giant.

Read more »

Young woman using computer laptop with hand on chin thinking about question, pensive expression.
Communication Shares

Are Telstra shares now a brilliant bargain?

Telstra is optimising its costs for future profit growth.

Read more »

A woman sits at her computer with her hand to her mouth and a contemplative smile on her face as she reads about the performance of Allkem shares on her computer
Communication Shares

Here is the earnings forecast through to 2026 for Telstra shares

Is the profit outlook for Telstra shares promising?

Read more »

A man holds his hand under his chin as he concentrates on his laptop screen and reads about the ANZ share price
Communication Shares

How UBS expects Telstra shares to gain 27% and deliver dividend growth

Having recently hit three year lows, UBS sees sizeable upside potential for Telstra shares.

Read more »

Communication Shares

Is the Telstra share price too cheap?

Could this be an opportunity calling?

Read more »

A man wearing a colourful shirt holds an old fashioned phone to his ear with a look of curiosity on his face as though he is pondering the answer to a question.
Communication Shares

What are brokers saying about the Telstra share price after this week's update?

Does the telco giant's guidance update change things for investors?

Read more »