Can I be denied unemployment if I am fired for refusing a COVID-19 vaccine?


WASHINGTON D.C. (WTVO) – Certain corporations are denying unemployment benefits for people who got fired for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.

President Joe Biden signed two executive orders on Thursday: One requires vaccinations for all federal workers and contractors, and the other requires companies with more than 100 employees to either get vaccinated or require weekly testing. Though this allows some employers to give their workers a choice in getting vaccinated, certain companies, such as Walmart and Disney, say they will require that some employees get the vaccine, according to WCSH.

In those cases, people who refuse the vaccine have a chance of losing their jobs.

People who are fired for breaking company policies are not eligible for unemployment payment and benefits in most parts of the country. By refusing to get vaccinated at companies that require it, those workers are breaking a company policy and might not be eligible.

“Even something as simple as a dress code that says you have to wear a tie, and that’s the company’s policy, and you say, ‘I don’t believe in wearing a tie, so I’m not going to do it.’ That’s insubordination,” said John Harrington of The Employment Law Group to WCSH. “It’s misconduct, and it would likely disqualify you from receiving unemployment benefits.”

In those cases, unemployment can be denied under the terms of “gross misconduct.”

“Gross Misconduct is actually defined, at least in part, as an act which deliberately or willfully violates an employer’s rule,” said Diane Seltzer of the Seltzer Law Firm. “You can be terminated if you violate a rule, especially if it’s intentional or deliberate.”

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