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How COVID-19 vaccine mandates may affect unemployment


BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Businesses could soon start requiring their employees to get vaccinated now that Pfizer’s vaccine has been fully approved.

This has raised many questions about unemployment.

“The full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, does is it gives the employer a stronger standing to say, hey, employee, we’re going to require you to get the vaccine,” said The Kullman Firm Associate Attorney Elizabeth Bloch.

She said leaving your duties because of a vaccine mandate may not qualify you for state help. However, when an employee is fired for this reason, the outcome could be different.

The Louisiana Workforce Commissions said in a statement:

“LWC does not have a specific policy for determining eligibility as it relates to employers’ vaccine mandates. We continue to uphold what has always been our policy for people seeking unemployment benefits which is that ‘You must be unemployed or partially unemployed through no fault of your own in order to receive benefits.’ However, a violation of an employer’s policy is not always a disqualifying circumstance. We review the facts and circumstances of each case before making a determination of eligibility.

Although Bloch didn’t foresee many being fired for refusing to vaccinate, especially during this time of where people are looking for workers, employers may come up with other options for those unvaccinated.

“Some of these other options they had are requiring someone to wear a mask. That’s pretty simple. Our governor put in a statewide mask mandate. So, we’re kind of all required followed by law. Social distancing, that’s pretty easy. You can change schedules. You can shift people around, and then they can also work at home. So that’s what we’re seeing and that’s where we’re headed, is that employers asking, well, what can we do? We don’t want to lose these people. We want to keep them on the workforce,” Bloch explained.

Legal experts advise people to keep up to date with their local government leaders and policies as things change with COVID-19.

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