On 12 May 2023, the Superior Court of Justice of the Canary Islands upheld an employer's actions in dismissing a childhood educator for refusing to wear a mask without medical justification.

The case relates to a dismissal lawsuit filed by a worker at a daycare center for children. The plaintiff was dismissed in May 2021 for refusing to wear a mask at work, despite it being legally required for safety during the pandemic. Her failure to provide medical justification for this refusal resulted in her dismissal for breaching contractual good faith and not complying with workplace safety measures, which were deemed a risk to the health of her colleagues and the children in the center. The plaintiff appealed the judgment of the lower court before the Superior Court of Justice of the Canary Islands.

The plaintiff claimed that the employer violated her constitutional rights by demanding access to her medical documents without consent. The plaintiff argued that only the Service of Health Surveillance or the Occupational Risk Prevention Service should have access to employees' medical data. The plaintiff accused the employer of causing an unnecessary conflict by not seeking proper health advice and trying to impose measures without medical support.

The Superior Court of Justice held that the employer's actions were not a breach of privacy, as the plaintiff voluntarily displayed a medical certificate but refused to provide its contents. The court emphasized the employer's obligation to ensure health and safety in the workplace and considered the special circumstances of a daycare center with young children. The court found the plaintiff's refusal to comply with mask-wearing measures unjustified and considered it a breach of good faith, leading to her dismissal. The court upheld the employer's actions and rejected the claim of infringement of the plaintiff's rights.

The court referred to relevant legal provisions, including the Article 18 of the Spanish Constitution guaranteeing the right to privacy, the Law on Autonomy of the Patient, Law 31/1995 of November 8th on Occupational Risk Prevention, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, and the Royal Decree-Law 21/2020, which imposed the mandatory use of masks in certain situations. It also emphasized that in exceptional circumstances, restrictions on fundamental rights might be justified for public health reasons.

Reference: STSJ ICAN 925/2023 - ECLI:ES:TSJICAN:2023:925.

Full text of the decision available at es