Legal Blog

Do Employees That Refuse to Vaccinate for COVID Receive Unemployment?

Breaking News on the 100+ Employee OSHA Rule

The federal government today asked the 6th Circuit court of appeals in Ohio (that won the lottery) to immediately lift the stay imposed by the 5th Circuit last week.  The 6th Circuit has the power to do this, so stay tuned.

Unemployment for those Who Refuse COVID Vaccine

Now, on a completely different note, does an employee that refuses to get a COVID vaccine get to collect unemployment after termination? Most of my readers are in Maryland or Delaware, so I’m going to address those states.  Let me know if you want to know your state’s position.

The Department of Labor issued a press release indicating that employees terminated for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19 are not eligible to receive unemployment insurance.  Per the Department: “In general, DOL has determined that vaccine requirements by employers are considered reasonable in nature…. Employees and claimants that fail to comply with employer-initiated COVID-19 vaccination requirements, in most instances, would not qualify to receive UI benefits upon separation from the employer.”  Allowing for employers’ refusal to grant legally required exemptions, the Department also stated that eligibility will depend on the specific circumstances.

Maryland seems less committed.  A statement said employers “have the right to set reasonable conditions of employment on their employees [including COVID vaccinations] as long as those policies are consistently applied and include valid medical and religious exemptions.”  That was further qualified, stating that the Department’s hearing officers “must follow-up and determine whether a claimant’s misconduct, quit, or job refusal has mitigating factors.” That applies whether the unemployment is due to vaccine requirements or not.


For over 25 years, Katherine has provided her clients with robust representation in matters of employment and related business law. Katherine represents and counsels employers and executives in all facets of the employment relationship, including hiring, termination, discrimination, non-competition, Fair Labor Standards Act matters, issues regarding Family and Medical Leave and other leaves, whistleblowers’ complaints, and regulatory matters.  As a litigator, she is well aware of the nuances of law necessary to draft effective restrictive covenants, severance agreements, and employment contracts.  Along with her over 250 colleagues, she represents companies and non-profit organizations of all sizes. She has defended companies under investigation by both U.S. and state Departments of Labor and handled multiple matters before the EEOC.





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