Client wins unemployment after refusing mandatory Covid-19 vaccine requirement due to religion

Attorney Murphy is pleased to start off 2023 by securing a favorable decision for his client who was fired from a Boston-area hospital for refusing its mandatory Covid-19 vaccine requirement for religious reasons.

The Department of Unemployment Assistance (“DUA”) initially denied the claim finding that the employee’s refusal was a wilful violation of company policy under the MA unemployment statute. The employee appealed this decision and Attorney Murphy represented her at the unemployment hearing.

At the hearing, the hospital argued the employee intentionally refused the vaccine and therefore, the employee should be disqualified. Attorney Murphy pointed out that the refusal was neither wilful nor intentional, and that the employee requested an exemption based on her religion which the hospital denied. Thus, the hospital could not meet its burden to prove wilful or deliberate misconduct.

The hospital incorrectly believed it was immune from all unemployment claims concerning an employee’s refusal to get a Covid-19 vaccine, but in MA the unemployment statute provides benefits to individuals who have lost their job through no fault of their own in special circumstances, like in this case.

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