Fired for not having followed a work vaccination mandate? You Can’t Get Unemployment – Forbes Advisor

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Although OSHA has suspended the federal vaccine mandate for private companies while it is being reviewed by the courts, your employer can still enact its own vaccination requirements.

This can mean that you can be fired for not following company policy – and if that happens, you probably won’t be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

But a few states have recently passed laws banning worker vaccination mandates and protecting access to unemployment benefits.

Here’s what you need to know about your unemployment eligibility if you don’t get the vaccine.

Licensed for non-vaccination? You probably won’t get any benefits

If an employer fires you because you don’t follow their policies, they have “reasons” to fire you. And if you are made “for good cause” dismissal, you may not be able to claim unemployment benefits.

“Each state defines ‘for cause’ differently,” Mariel Smith, partner at Hall Booth Smith law firm, PC. “Most states have similar laws that say if an employee is fired for violating company policy, the employee will be denied unemployment benefits.”

“In Texas, for example, you may be denied unemployment if you voluntarily quit or are fired for associated misconduct,” says Carrie Hoffman, partner at the law firm Foley & Lardner, LLP. “Employers could argue that the refusal of the vaccine was a voluntary resignation or an involuntary dismissal for misconduct. “

If your employer’s vaccination policy and its ramifications are clear, you better not expect leeway if you are made redundant and try to claim unemployment.

“I would caution employees against the idea that if they don’t quit, but stay and get fired, they can get unemployment. It’s very risky, ”says Smith.

Arkansas, Iowa, Tennessee, Florida and Kansas recently passed laws specifying that workers who lose their jobs for not getting vaccinated can receive unemployment benefits.

But others have made it clear that people fired for failing to follow vaccination policies are likely excluded from receiving benefits. Oregon is an example of a state that has forced health care, education, and government workers to get vaccinated.

The state’s Employment Department said eligibility will be considered on a case-by-case basis, but those who have been fired by public or private employers for refusing to be vaccinated may not have their applications accepted. (People with religious or medical exemptions will not be denied benefits.)

Outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a mandate for vaccination by a private employer effective December 27. The rule aims to curb the Omicron variant of Covid-19, but it’s unclear how long that will last — Eric Adams takes over as mayor on Jan. 1, and has not commented on whether he will retain his term. when he takes up his duties.

New York State Unemployment Insurance guidelines state that termination for not having been tested or vaccinated in accordance with employer requirements is subject to a case-by-case review for benefit approval.

Public employees and those working in medical or educational institutions are not eligible for benefits if they are fired for not having been vaccinated or tested in accordance with their employer’s rules.

Workers’ discrimination legislation still under discussion in several states

Lawmakers in several other states have proposed to make discrimination based on vaccination status illegal and guarantee access to unemployment benefits if a worker does not comply with their employer’s vaccination policy.

In Idaho, a bill was passed by the House to prohibit discrimination based on immunization status. He was not taken up in the Senate, where he has been sitting since February.

A bill in the Michigan House of Representatives would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who do not get the vaccine. It was presented in March, but was not considered in committee.

In January 2021, the Indiana General Assembly introduced a bill banning mandatory workplace vaccinations. Arizona sought to ban vaccination status as a condition of employment, but the proposal died in committee.

Maria D. Ervin