Should workers refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19 wait to be fired to collect unemployment?

Tuesday, August 10, 2021
By Christiana Dillard

Contrary to guidance in a social media post, waiting to be fired is not a good idea. In many states, unemployment benefits applicants who are fired are not eligible for benefits, according to the National Employment Law Project.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that employers can require that employees physically entering their workspace be vaccinated against COVID-19, as long as those requirements are not based on discriminatory factors.

And many states have unemployment insurance laws that deny benefits to applicants who were fired due to misconduct. Nolo.com, a leading online legal guide, defines "misconduct" in the workplace as "willfully doing something that substantially injures the company's interests."

U.S. Department of Labor statistics show workers have a low success rate with appeals on denied unemployment claims. They won a reversal in just over 26% of appeals nationwide in June of 2021.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.
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