Fact Check: Refuse the vaccine, get fired, collect unemployment?


As more employers are starting to require their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, some people online are suggesting people refuse the vaccine so their employer will fire them, allowing them to collect unemployment. However, it’s not that simple.

“If a company has a policy requiring vaccines, and an employee won’t comply, that would generally be considered a firing for cause, which would render that individual ineligible for Ohio unemployment benefits,” Northern Kentucky law professor Ken Katkin said.

The Ohio unemployment handbook says firing for cause can be “violating established company rules” or “disregarding the employers’ interest.” Kentucky and Indiana have similar provisions in place.

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If someone said they have a medical disability that prevents them from getting the vaccine, that would be a valid claim under certain circumstances.

“If and only if somebody has an actual disability that’s recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Katkin said.

Claiming a religious exemption is also possible, but in order to get that exemption a person would likely need to provide evidence that they adhere to those religious teachings.

Katkin said employees need to use the procedures employers provide to seek exemptions and not to expect to just be fired. Without going through those processes, Katkin said, people shouldn’t expect to receive unemployment compensation.

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