My employer said they would not require employees to get vaccinated. I turned down another job offer based on that assurance. Since the FDA fully approved a vaccine they’ve now changed their mind. I refused to get vaccinated and they fired me for cause, for refusing to comply with company policy. They gave me no severance and are trying to deny my unemployment. Can they do that?
Employers can change the terms and conditions of employment at their discretion, unless prohibited by a contract. So yes, they can fire you for not agreeing to be vaccinated unless your objection was based on medical or religious reasons. What I don’t believe stands a chance of being upheld by court is their claim that your refusal to get vaccinated amounts to “cause” which is usually for reasons such as gross misconduct, theft or insubordination. File for unemployment and get a lawyer to fight for what you would have been entitled to had you been fired for reasons other than cause. And the courts are going to be busy with challenges given the president’s mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees to require vaccination.
I was negotiating a raise with my boss and said: “If you can’t bring my compensation up to a more competitive rate, I’m going to have to leave.” He said, “I accept your resignation.” I didn’t resign, I was negotiating. Now he is forcing me out. Is that allowed?
I know it may seem odd, but for some reason, most employers usually don’t respond well to threats. Go figure. You may have been negotiating, but you made an ultimatum — if your employer doesn’t give you what you want, you are going to leave. Leaving is the same as quitting — not gonna work here anymore, resigning. So yes, your employer has the right to deny your claim of unfair dismissal and accept any consequences for you not agreeing. I will admit though, for an employer to leap to that usually means that not only aren’t they interested in giving you a raise, they really aren’t that interested in retaining you. Maybe it’s for the best that you know that, even if you learned it the hard way.
Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive and is dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work. E-mail your questions to GoToGreg@NYPost.com. Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at GoToGreg.com.