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Can You Collect Unemployment If You’re Fired for Refusing the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Published November 26, 2021 by Matt Fendon Law Group | Employment Law
Employment Law: Can You Collect Unemployment If You’re Fired for Refusing the COVID-19 Vaccine?

After vaccines for COVID-19 became available, many employers mandated their employees to get vaccinated or face termination. That has led to difficult decisions for workers who oppose the vaccine and face the prospect of losing their jobs. But can they seek unemployment if they’re fired and need financial help?

At Matt Fendon Law Group, our Arizona employment lawyers understand the challenges of working for employers who put demands on you that you may disagree with. To learn more about how we could help, contact us today for a case evaluation.

Can I Collect Unemployment If I’m Fired for Not Getting the COVID Vaccine?

The answer to this question is evolving. But in many cases, workers who are terminated for not getting a COVID vaccine will be ineligible for unemployment benefits. That’s because many businesses and organizations view the vaccine as a reasonable tool for maintaining workplace safety. Workers who refuse to be vaccinated may be fired for misconduct and disqualified from obtaining unemployment benefits.

However, this is not a universal answer. Workers who have a medical reason they can’t get the vaccine or other valid reasons under state law, such as religious beliefs that prohibit vaccination, may be able to pursue unemployment benefits.

COVID Vaccine and Unemployment in Arizona

Arizona generally allows businesses and other organizations to fire employees for misconduct. That could include not getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Misconduct is broadly defined under Arizona law as “any act or omission by an employee that may be a breach of the employee’s duties or…could substantially impact the interests of the employer.” In short, employers have broad leeway in letting an employee go. And, while not out of the question, it could be challenging for an employee fired for not getting a COVID vaccine to collect unemployment benefits if it’s considered employee misconduct.

Do Medical and Religious Objections Apply?

Medical and religious exemptions may apply in some cases. Generally, there are exceptions for people who can’t safely receive a vaccine and those who don’t get vaccines because of sincerely held beliefs. If you apply for unemployment and your claim is denied even though you have medical or religious exemptions, you may be able to contest the decision.

Contesting an Unemployment Claim

If your unemployment claim is denied, you can appeal the decision and request a reconsideration. To do so, you’ll need to file the appeal within 15 calendar days of the determination. Appealing a decision can be complicated, but a qualified employment lawyer can walk you through the process and serve as your advocate at every step.

How Can an Employment Lawyer in Arizona Help Me?

When you’re out of work, unemployment can be an essential source of support during a difficult time. An Arizona employment attorney can help by:

  • Listening to your story and explaining your rights under Arizona law
  • Answering your questions
  • Preparing your unemployment paperwork
  • Representing you at unemployment hearings
  • Handling any appeals
  • Advocating for your rights throughout the process

If you were fired for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, don’t give up on unemployment benefits without talking to an attorney at Matt Fendon Law Group. We’re proud to fight for workers’ rights, and we’re here to speak with you. To learn more about how we could help you through the unemployment process, reach out to us now.

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