Wisconsin Center District says unvaccinated employees will have 'voluntarily resigned'

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin Center District CEO Marty Brooks said during a Friday, Sept. 17 meeting employees must be vaccinated by November to continue working there.

"Anyone who has not provided proof of vaccination to our human resources department by 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29 will have voluntarily resigned from their position with the district."

Brooks said employees were informed of the policy Monday, Sept. 13.

Employment attorney Nola Hitchcock Cross says a voluntary resignation policy is often used by employers.

"The reason they say that is because it shifts the burden of proof when you go to unemployment," Hitchcock Cross said. "So if you quit, resign, then the burden is on you to prove that you're eligible to get unemployment."

Hitchcock Cross said businesses can certainly fire employees for refusing to get a vaccine, but she doesn't expect the voluntary resignation language to stand up in court.

"A resignation is voluntary, and there's nothing voluntary about what's going on here," Hitchcock Cross said. "The employer is saying 'do this or we're firing you.'"

Hitchcock Cross said the issue of receiving unemployment for vaccine-related firings is relatively untested in court.

"Figuring out what the answer to this is going to be, ultimately, is going to take a while."

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