On Wednesday, the Oregon Employment Department announced that people who lost their jobs because they refused a vaccine requirement are likely ineligible for unemployment assistance.
During a media call on Wednesday, Oregon Employment Department’s acting director, David Gerstenfeld said that, in general, putting a vaccine mandate in place during a worldwide pandemic is reasonable.
He then said, “So, if somebody doesn’t follow that policy, and they don’t have a good reason, it very well could result in their not being eligible for benefits.” Genstenfeld added that a few “narrow” exceptions exist, such as those with medical conditions or a “sincerely held religious belief.”
This stance is much more definitive compared to the position the department had a week ago. It previously described vaccine requirements as a “rapidly evolving issue,” adding that the department is waiting for clarity that would be provided by future court ruling regarding benefit eligibility.
Only a small number of businesses in Oregon have vaccine mandates in place. Nevertheless, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown had already issued orders that required health care workers, teachers, and employees of the executive branch to get their COVID-19 shots.
Normally, jobless benefits are available to individuals who lost their jobs after being laid off or fired. They are typically not available for those who quit without a “good cause.” Those who got fired may also be ineligible if they refused to comply with the business employer’s reasonable policies.
Last week, the employment department revealed that it would determine eligibility for benefits on a “case by case” basis. Gerstenfeld echoed this position on Wednesday. However, he mentioned that vaccine mandates fall into the said “reasonable” classification of policies, which would preclude fired individuals from getting benefits.