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October 30, 2021

Fortune 500 Employees May Not Receive Unemployment Benefits Amidst Vaccine Requirements

Fortune 500 Employers across the nation are promoting safety protocols by requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to work in person or face severe repercussions related to their employment.

Fortune 500, like many businesses with over 100 employees, is introducing or has the potential to introduce vaccine mandates for employees if they provide confirmation of vaccination by a certain date. Without vaccination, employees risk certain consequences if their vaccination deadline to return to in-person employment is not met.

The consequences of not obtaining the vaccine may vary from company to company, but the majority of companies, including Fortune 500, may terminate employees for failing to comply with vaccination requirements.

According to an internal memo from Jeff Zucker, CNN announced on August 12 that three non-immunized employees were terminated for violating the company's vaccination requirements for on-site employees.

Obviously, CNN is not the only company to implement repercussions for employees who violate company policies. Fortune 500 could require employees to be immunized against COVID-19, including management positions with varying timeframes. Although the consequences differ from company to company, the majority of companies adhere to the principle of terminating employees from their positions within the organization.

Consequences may include the loss of important health or retirement benefits, the absence of severance packages, and ineligibility for rehiring.

However, if an employee is terminated from Fortune 500 for violating the company's requirements, he or she may be ineligible for unemployment benefits.

“Typically, an employee who is terminated for failing to comply with company policies is not eligible for unemployment benefits, which would include refusing to comply with a company’s COVID-19 prevention policies, masking requirements or vaccine requirements,” said Alana Ackels, a labor and employment lawyer in an interview with MarketWatch.

This could mean that many Fortune 500 employees could lose their unemployment benefits if they fail to comply with the company's vaccination policies. Nonetheless, employees who provide evidence of medical or religious objections are still eligible for unemployment benefits if they are terminated from their position.

Every case of unemployment is evaluated on an individual basis, on a case-by-case basis, by each employer. 

However, a violation of an employer’s policy is not always a disqualifying circumstance,” said Marina Gelpi Clay, press secretary at the Louisiana Workforce Commission in an interview with MarketWatch. “Before determining eligibility, we examine the facts and circumstances of each individual case.”

Added Fact:
For Fortune 500 workers nearing retirement, the potential loss of unemployment benefits due to non-compliance with vaccine mandates adds an extra layer of complexity to their retirement planning. It's like balancing on a tightrope as they approach the golden years. They must carefully consider their vaccination choices, understanding that failure to comply could impact their financial security post-retirement. Just as retirement planning requires a strategic approach, navigating the intersection of employment policies and benefits eligibility demands foresight and careful decision-making. These employees find themselves at a crossroads where the choices they make now could have lasting consequences on their retirement funds and overall well-being, making it crucial to stay informed and make informed decisions about vaccination requirements.

Added Analogy:
Navigating vaccine mandates for Fortune 500 employees on the brink of retirement is akin to crossing a financial tightrope. Much like a high-wire artist carefully treads a precarious path, these seasoned workers must make vaccine-related decisions that could affect their retirement stability. It's akin to juggling financial planning while walking this tightrope. The choices they make about vaccination compliance are akin to the objects they juggle, each representing a facet of their financial future. Just as precision and balance are essential in tightrope walking, strategic thinking and consideration of the consequences are paramount for these employees. They are performing a financial balancing act, mindful that the wrong step could impact their retirement safety net.

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Buchwald, Elisabeth. “If Your Employer Fires You Because You Won’t Get the COVID Vaccine, Don’t Expect to Collect Unemployment - MarketWatch.” MarketWatch, MarketWatch, 6 Aug. 2021, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/dont-expect-unemployment-benefits-if-you-dont-comply-with-your-employers-vaccine-requirement-11628287814.

Grynbaum, Michael M. “CNN Fires Three Employees Who Went Into Office Unvaccinated - The New York Times.” The New York Times - Breaking News, US News, World News and Videos, 5 Aug. 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/05/business/media/cnn-vaccine-mandate.html.

Iacurci, Greg. “Fired for Refusing a Covid Vaccine? You Likely Can’t Get Unemployment Benefits.” CNBC, CNBC, 7 Oct. 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/07/fired-for-refusing-a-covid-vaccine-you-likely-cant-get-unemployment-benefits.html.