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Many American Workers Fired for Refusing COVID-19 Vaccine Cannot Get Unemployment Benefits

woman fired from her job

Many workers in the United States have been fired from their jobs in recent months for not complying with employer COVID-19 vaccine requirements.1 2 3 Every state has its own eligibility guidelines for unemployment benefits. The benefits are generally available to those people who are unemployed due to circumstances beyond their control, such as a layoff.4

Employees, who are terminated “with cause” (terminated for misconduct by not complying with company policy), are generally ineligible for unemployment benefits.5 However, some states are now extending unemployment benefits to employees terminated “with cause” for refusing to get the COVID vaccine.6

At Least Five States Extending Unemployment Benefits to Employees Terminated Over Vaccine Mandates

Currently, at least five states have recently passed laws that extend unemployment benefits to employees, who have been fired from their jobs because of non-compliance to a COVID vaccine requirement. These states include Florida, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee.7

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill guaranteeing unemployment benefits for those people fired for refusing a vaccine. She stated, “No Iowan should be forced to lose their job or livelihood over the COVID-19 vaccine.”8

Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson has spoken against the COVID vaccine mandates, calling the vaccine mandates ineffective and unfair. He said, “Kansans have made it clear that they choose freedom over Faucism.”9

There were concerns the extension of unemployment benefits for terminated employees would lead to increased unemployment claims that could drain the state’s unemployment insurance fund and weigh on businesses.

Masterson responded:

To have a hit on the fund, you have to have an employer that is denying the medical and individual rights of the employee and firing them for it. Simple solution: Don’t do that.10

Wyoming, Wisconsin and Missouri are also working towards extending unemployment benefits to people who have been terminated for not adhering to employer COVID vaccine requirements.11

Does Extending Unemployment Benefits Undermine Employer COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates?

Some have argued that extending unemployment benefits to employees terminated for not complying with vaccine requirements is “undermining vaccine mandates.” Alan Rupe, attorney and vice chair of the labor and employment practice at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, commented that:

It really doesn’t undermine the mandates; it just provides unemployment insurance for those people who have been fired for reason of the mandate.12

By law, employers are required to provide exemptions for individuals whose sincerely held religious beliefs or disability interferes with getting a vaccine. These extension of unemployment benefits law also protect employees who object to the vaccine for personal, philosophical or other reasons.

Patrick Peters, an employment attorney at Jackson Lewis PC, stated:

There are exceptions built into mandates on religious and disability grounds, but this would be for folks who say I’m not getting a vaccine because I don’t want to for some reason other than religion or a disability. All it’s going to do is, if somebody loses their job because they refuse to get vaccines, they will get benefits, whereas they might otherwise not.13

On Jan. 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a mandate requiring that workers at private businesses with 100 or more employees to get vaccinated or submit a negative COVID test weekly to enter the workplace. However, the Supreme Court majority voted to allow a federal vaccine mandate for health care workers employed in medical facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid payments.14


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9 Responses

  1. We ought to bring more attention to anti-Constitutional mandates.
    Where are all the class action lawsuits against major employers by those wrongfully terminated? What about class action suits against the federal government, largest employer in the country?
    We have the truth and we’ve got the numbers. Our numbers count – we are massively powerful change agents for an authentic world.

  2. Health care workers should NOT be forced to take this vaccine either, especially since studies unequivocally show that the vaccine does not prevent infection OR TRANSMISSION!!!! There’s no longer an argument that health care workers must take the vaccine to protect other medical staff or patients!!!! In fact, studies show that patients are MORE at risk of VACCINATED staff giving them COVID, than unvaccinated staff that have had COVID and have natural immunity! It’s outrageous that our Government continues to deny natural immunity is BETTER than the vaccine. It makes me angry that some facilities like Ascension Sacred Heart in my city denied ALL of the requests for religious exemptions! NO ONE should be forever to lose their job for not taking this stilll experimental vaccine!!!!!

  3. My goodness…next it will be you have blue eyes….so you lose your job. People will be on the streets! What is going on with our country. We are not on this Earth for ourselves. Please show compassion for your fellow human. People are getting hurt because of this mandate, they are losing everything. Stand up against the tyranny!

  4. Retirement provider TIAA is denying religious and medical exemptions for active employees. Then they are required to stay with the company to get their annual bonus from last year’s efforts until March 1st. Requires their own invasive questionnaire with a follow up interview which they won’t allow you to record because it’s “off the record” to go through the answers on the questionnaire with a fine tooth comb. Only to find out you are denied with no specific reason given and no appeals because all the decisions are final.

  5. I’m quite disappointed that the Supreme Court didn’t overturn Covid vaccine mandate for health care workers who accept Medicare and Medicaid payments. It’s absolutely unfair. That may affect me because chiropractors would not take Medicare over mandatory Covid vaccine. How am I suppose to receive a higher quality of chiropractic cares when I can’t afford their fees??? They’re very expensive. Walk in chiropractic visits are useless and a waste of money. I’m sure there are people out there who share the same problem.

    Hospitals or medical facilities CANNOT fire health care workers who choose not to get vaccinated. They have sacrificed their commitment and time to care for sick patients during the pandemic time. They deserve a decent treatment in spite of vaccination status, period.

    Enough with mandatory vaccines!!!! I’m sick of it.

  6. It won’t stop! DOD placed on leave for a birth defect. Started weekly nasal swab testing in December, sick ever since. Offered to take oral testing and sent home!

  7. Governors need executive order adopting the Nuremberg Code as part of their States anti-discrimination policies. Any company that commits coercion regarding shots can face penalties including business closures. Pick one major Fortune 100 offender and kick them out of Texas and Florida. This all ends.

  8. Fired medical worker should go into private practice giveing medical exemption for vaccine.

    Can they give themselves medical exemption?

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