Kingsport Rep. Hulsey seeks to protect workers who refuse mandatory vaccinations


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Tennesseans who refuse to get a COVID vaccination and lose their jobs because of it would qualify for unemployment benefits under a bill put forward by Republican Kingsport Rep. Bud Hulsey.

Hulsey’s bill would allow anyone who is fired or quits a job because a private employer has mandated vaccinations as a condition of continued employment.

The legislation would also prohibit Tennessee state or local governments from mandating vaccination.

Hulsey described what he said is “a great deal of fear” on the part of some people that vaccination will become a forced issue.

Rep. Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport)

“If not this week, next week and if not this month it’ll come around again,” Hulsey said. “And they’ve got a right to be afraid.

Hulsey cited what he called a reaction to COVID by government that included “trampl(ing) over the Constitutional rights, and they’ve never seen that before in their lifetime.

“A lot of people are really horrified by this, they’re afraid,” Hulsey said.

“They’ve never seen government say to a business, a legitimate business, ‘you can shut your doors and go to the house and keep your mouth shut,’ and the door next to you, ‘you can stay open and enjoy free enterprise.’ They have never seen that.”

Hulsey said he realizes he has no Constitutional authority to meddle in private businesses’ hiring and firing practices, “and don’t want to.”

His bill allows anyone who resigns after facing a vaccine mandate, “they’re therefore eligible for unemployment.”

Workers who quit a job of their own accord — or are fired — aren’t in most circumstances eligible for unemployment.

The element pertaining to government is one Hulsey thinks may be popular with local government because “it gets them off the hook.

“If they really tried to push a mandated vaccine as a condition of employment and somebody took the vaccine because they wanted to keep their job and they ended up suffering adverse reaction to it, the liability on that is way out on a limb,” Hulsey said.

Hulsey said he does hope a minimal number of businesses in Tennessee, if any, will make vaccination a condition of employment.

“I hope they don’t, but I can’t stop it.”

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