If Terminated At Work For Refusing COVID-19 Vaccine, Can You Still Claim Unemployment?

According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, you only qualify for unemployment insurance benefits if you are unemployed through no fault of your own.

Posted: Aug 19, 2021 12:23 AM
Updated: Aug 19, 2021 7:23 AM

Vaccine mandates are a controversial topic.

With immunity tied to the paycheck, many are left wondering if they say no to the shot, do they face termination, and if so, could they then be eligible for unemployment benefits?

"I've not seen a case like that come before the [Indiana] Department of Workforce Development, so I don't have a definitive answer," said Evansville attorney Chad Sullivan.

Sullivan is a member of Jackson Kelly PPLC and specializes in labor and employment law.

According to the IDWD, you only qualify for unemployment insurance benefits if you are unemployed through no fault of your own.

As we've seen, some employers are now setting policies requiring vaccinations, which would help to protect the workplace from a potential COVID-19 outbreak.

Sullivan said, in general, an employer can rightfully terminate an employee for violating company policy.

"I think that's what the analysis will come down to, is whether these vaccine mandates are reasonable policies that are being consistently enforced by the particular employer," he said.

Based on Sullvan's breakdown, if you were fired or quit over your employer's vaccine policy, it's not likely you'd be able to walk out company doors and sit down at your computer to file unemployment, but there are a few exceptions.

An employee could potentially be approved for unemployment benefits if they claimed medical or religious reasons for not taking the vaccine.

Those would qualify as good cause, but they're uncommon situations.

"For an employee that just doesn't want to get the vaccine," Sullivan said. "I would say they would not qualify for unemployment."

At the end of the day, if you're going to justify an unemployment claim based on refusing the vaccine, IDWD says you must provide fact-finding information as part of your online application.

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