If I quit because my employer mandates vaccinations, can I get unemployment?

Recently multiple blog readers have written asking:

“If I quit or get fired because my employer mandates vaccinations, will I have trouble getting unemployment benefits” and

Here’s my answer:

Generally, when employees quit because they won’t comply with company policies, including COVID-19 prevention policies, they may lose or face delays in receiving unemployment benefits.

  • Why? Those who quit or get fired because they won’t comply with an employer’s vaccination mandate lack the “good cause” former employees need to make them eligible for unemployment benefits. Given the evidence supporting the vaccine’s safety and COVID-19 prevention benefits, it’s unlikely a regulatory agency with consider the employees had good cause.1
  • The exception—employees who have proof of a medical exemption or a sincerely held religious objection to COVID-19 vaccinations, likely remain eligible for unemployment benefits, and possible other legal rights.

The circumstances surrounding an employee’s termination impact their chances of receiving unemployment as do each state’s “eligibility requirements” created by their workforce department.  

  • For example, the Texas Workforce Commission states that while most employees who quit jobs are deemed ineligible for unemployment compensation, employees may be eligible for benefits if they were fired for reasons other than misconduct.
  • A spokesperson for Wyoming’s Department of Workforce Services states that they would determine whether the discharge for failing to comply with an employer’s vaccination mandate would be considered misconduct or for good cause.

Meanwhile, a bill pending before the Tennessee legislature contains a provision prohibiting denying unemployment benefits if an employee quits because of a vaccine requirement. Similar bills are contemplated or proposed in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana and Michigan.2

1 https://www.marketwatch.com/story/dont-expect-unemployment-benefits-if-you-dont-comply-with-your-employers-vaccine-requirement-11628287814

2 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2021/08/09/fact-check-workers-fired-over-vaccination-can-denied-unemployment/5518818001/

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2 thoughts on “If I quit because my employer mandates vaccinations, can I get unemployment?

  1. Great comments and delivered in a nonpartisan manner. Yes, all these supposed “business experts” among journalists who talk about people quitting because of disagreement with vaccine and/or masking and/or testing requirements and then applying for [and, presumably, getting] unemployment benefits mostly demonstrate their ignorance. In general, if you quit your job, you don’t qualify for UIC, except as you indicate, for some kind of cause, which is rarely the case and hard to prove. In other words, the person better find another job with an employer who doesn’t require vaccination or maybe decide to go ahead and get vaccinated.

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