Yes, getting fired for a vaccination warrant can cost you unemployment assistance

Requirement: “If your employer imposes pokes, don’t quit. Get them fired. This way you get unemployment benefits and can take legal action. “- Facebook post from August 4th.

The post, shared thousands of times, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to tackle fake news and disinformation on its news feed.

PolitiFact Rating: False. Unemployment benefits are not guaranteed to people made redundant for refusing to comply with a company‘s vaccine requirements. On the contrary, legal experts have said that although state guidelines vary, it is more likely that a worker in this situation will be denied such benefits for violating company policy.


This social media career advice is flawed, employment law experts have said.

“This message is incorrect,” said Charlotte Garden, associate professor at Seattle University Law School. “Workers who are made redundant because they refuse a vaccine are unlikely to be eligible.”

State guidelines for determining eligibility vary, and worker claims may be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. But overall, the message of those trained in this kind of law was not to rely on it.

PolitiFact is a fact-checking project to help you sort out fact from political fiction. Truth-O-Meter ratings are determined by a panel of three publishers. The burden of proof lies with the speaker, and PolitiFact assesses statements based on information known at the time the statement is made.

“In the absence of special state legislation protecting workers from dismissal for refusal to be vaccinated, they can be dismissed for such refusal without being entitled to unemployment compensation,” said Michael Harper, professor of law at Boston University.

Unemployment benefits are paid to Americans who find themselves without a job through no fault of their own, such as when a business closes or downsizes.

Each state sets its own guidelines for determining eligibility, including for laid-off workers. But in many states, a person who has been terminated for misconduct may be denied benefits.

In Alabama, for example, a state with one of the lowest immunization rates, a state manual indicates that unemployment benefits can be delayed or disqualified for workers laid off “for work-related misconduct.” which may include “disregarding an employer’s work rules and policies”, “endangering the safety of others” and “disregarding orders or instructions”.

Experts agreed that violating a policy requiring COVID-19 vaccinations would likely prevent a terminated employee from receiving benefits, unless the worker was exempted for medical or religious reasons covered by federal law.

“What counts as misconduct is defined differently in different states, and it’s a relatively high bar in some places,” Garden said. “Still, I think most unemployment agencies and courts would agree that deliberately breaking a workplace safety rule – including a vaccination requirement – is misconduct enough to render a worker ineligible for UI. “

Garden said she was not aware of any state giving unemployment benefits to workers made redundant for serious misconduct. According to a recent report by WUSA9, a Washington, DC television station, workers fired for rejecting company vaccination policies would likely be denied unemployment benefits under the laws of Washington, Virginia and Maryland. . North Carolina and Michigan TV stations reported that workers there could expect the same.

The Justice Department’s legal counsel‘s office said in July that employers can require vaccines as a “condition of employment.” The legal opinion clarified that US law “does not prohibit public or private entities from imposing vaccination requirements for a vaccine subject to an emergency use authorization” – an argument sometimes advanced by people opposed vaccines.

In June, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by employees of the Houston Methodist Hospital System over a vaccine requirement.

“Employers generally have broad discretion to demand security measures,” said Catherine Fisk, professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. In some states like California, the law itself imposes vaccine requirements on certain workers, such as those in healthcare.

Some workers represented by a union and covered by a collective agreement may carry more weight, said Harper, a professor of law at Boston University. Even then, the union would have considerable power to decide how to handle a workers grievance following such a dismissal.

“Some unions are negotiating about this,” Fisk said. After Tyson Foods, a food company, recently announced a vaccination mandate, for example, a union leader said in a statement that the union would meet with the company to discuss the mandate and “ensure that the rights of these workers are protected ”.

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