Many New York healthcare workers got fired because they refused to get COVID-19 vaccines. Now, media reports say that there is a chance they will not be eligible for unemployment benefits.
The Vaccine Mandate
Hospital, adult care, and long-term care workers had until Sept. 27 to get at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccines. Many of those who did not get a shot got fired Monday, while others quit. The vaccine mandate was imposed through an executive order by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo last Aug. 16.
Erin Silk, a spokesperson for New York’s Department of Health, shared with MarketWatch in the past that it is up to the employers of hospitals and facilities to develop a plan for the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. It is also up to the employers what they would do to employees if they do not comply. Silk added then, “Their plans could include termination.”
After the deadline, 84 percent of hospital workers, 88 percent of adult care workers, and around 89 percent of nursing home workers were fully vaccinated. When Cuomo implemented the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, 75 percent of hospital workers, 74 percent of adult care workers, and 68 percent of nursing home workers were already fully vaccinated.
Not Eligible For Unemployment Benefits
According to the New York Department of Labor website, it said that without a valid request for accommodation from a physician, workers who refused to get COVID-19 vaccines within the deadline given would not be able to collect unemployment benefits. The explanation is that “these are workplaces where an employer has a compelling interest in such a mandate, especially if they already require other immunizations.”
Aside from healthcare workers, public employees who work in a public setting in New York state who are required to be vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19, but refuse to get a shot or get tested, may also be disqualified from collecting unemployment benefits.
Such jobless individuals must prove that they lost their job not because it is their fault to qualify for unemployment benefits across the United States.
Further, Ronald Zambrano, employment law chair at West Coast Trial Lawyers, a Los Angeles–based law firm, added that refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine if the employer requires one is “akin to an employee’s refusal to submit to permissible drug tests or participate in safety trainings.” Therefore, when such an employee is terminated, they will not qualify for unemployment benefits.