Tennessee bill would allow unemployment for those who quit over COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Mid-South

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Republican-led bill could allow those who quit their jobs over vaccine mandates to collect unemployment.

The proposal by Republican Rep. Rusty Grills is being considered during the Ford Motor Company megasite special session.

House Republicans have been eager to limit or stop COVID restrictions and this is their latest attempt.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton signaled his support for allowing workers who quit their jobs for not getting vaccinated to draw unemployment.

“It depends on why you quit, if you quit for harassment you would be, so it’s not an automatic quit,” said Sexton.

But some, including Democrats, are raising concerns about the new proposal.

“This is really absurd that someone could receive unemployment money for a personal decision,” said Democratic Rep. Vincent Dixie.

Dixie, the House Democratic caucus chair, said this will be an additional expense for small businesses that pay into the unemployment fund.

“You’re going to tax small businesses even more than what they already pay, so you’re going to see more people go under. You already talk about wages are low and we can’t find workers and basically, essentially, (you’re) going to add another tax,” Dixie said.

Sexton disagreed, saying it’s about pushing back against federal mandates. “We may move into trying to nullify President Biden’s stuff that he’s trying to go through OSHA and do a nullification type of bill, and push back on the federal government.”

The speaker also argued that the bill won’t be a burden to businesses wanting to implement COVID safety strategies.

“I don’t think the call says we’re regulating or we’re going to force a mandate. What it does give us the capability is to have those discussions,” Sexton said. “Gives us the availability to talk about different directions which we may go a totally different direction.”

Voluntarily quitting a job typically disqualifies someone from receiving unemployment.

Many of the vaccine requirements, including from President Joe Biden, include a COVID testing option.

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