WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- More companies are requiring their workers to get a Covid-19 vaccine.
- United Airlines, Northwell Health, Novant Health, and UCHealth System are a few of a long list of employers that have fired hundreds of unvaccinated workers.
- Workers fired due to vaccination refusal may likely don’t qualify for unemployment benefits.
As more businesses require employees to get a Covid-19 vaccine, thousands who refuse are losing their jobs. Unfortunately, they likely can’t get unemployment benefits.
However, there may be exceptions, depending on a worker’s situation, according to labor experts. Some state legislatures are trying to change their rules altogether.
“If you don’t want to be vaccinated, don’t have a religious or disability exemption, and you lose your job, chances are you will be found ineligible for unemployment compensation,” said Christopher Moran, a partner and employment attorney at law firm Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders.
Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in New York, recently terminated 1,400 unvaccinated workers. ChristianaCare, Novant Health and UCHealth System — health providers in Delaware, North Carolina and Colorado, respectively — cut more than 100 workers each.
United Airlines is also poised to fire nearly 600 unvaccinated employees. And Kaiser Permanente, which is based in California, said Tuesday it put more than 2,200 employees on unpaid leave nationwide.
The issue may soon affect many more workers as nearly 46% of organizations plan to institute a vaccine mandate, according to survey published by Gartner, a consulting firm, last month.
The U.S. Department of Labor is also soon expected to issue a rule mandating vaccines (or regular Covid testing) among businesses with at least 100 employees.
The White House is also requiring vaccines for all federal workers, contractors who do work for the federal government and health-care workers at facilities receiving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.
Workers qualify for unemployment benefits in cases of “eligible job separation,” according to Anne Paxton, an attorney and policy director at the Unemployment Law Project, which represents individuals in appeals cases when their benefits have been denied.
States somewhat differ in their definitions. In most, workers can collect benefits after they are laid off, quit a job for “good cause” or get fired for a reason other than “misconduct,” Paxton said.
However, a labor agency would likely deem refusal to comply with a vaccine mandate as “misconduct,” she said. Losing one’s job, as a result, would therefore likely disqualify a worker from benefits (if the refusal hadn’t been for a medical or religious reason).
Similarly, quitting to avoid a mandate would also likely not be viewed as a “good cause.”
“I think the consensus is very strong that employers are within their rights to protect workplace safety, and employees are not within their rights to refuse to comply,” she said.
But there are variables and gray areas, which may vary by state, she added.
In general, an employee who is fired for refusing to comply with a company’s vaccination requirements is not eligible to collect unemployment, legal experts say.
Source: CNBC on MSN