Iowa Judge Rules Worker Who Resigned Due to Contracting COVID-19 Not Entitled to Unemployment Benefits

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Iowa Judge Rules Worker Who Resigned Due to Contracting COVID-19 Not Entitled to Unemployment Benefits

An Iowa Administrative Law Judge has ruled that an Iowa worker, Erin Phillips, who resigned as a result of contracting COVID-19 while working as a substance abuse counselor in a residential treatment facility, is not entitled to state unemployment benefits.

The facility had a mandatory mask policy for employees and residents with a three-strike policy for residents before potentially being discharged. However, before contracting COVID-19 and resigning, Phillips had worked with a maskless resident that had reported symptoms of the virus and simply been told to return to their room.

This resident, as well as another with multiple mask violations, later tested positive for COVID-19. A few days later, Phillips began to develop symptoms and resigned immediately. A couple of days afterward, they tested positive for coronavirus.

However, upon attempting to claim unemployment insurance, an administrative law judge ruled that Phillips was not entitled to benefits because the reasons for the resignation were not the fault of the employer. The employer had not taken actions that resulted in unsafe or harmful working decisions regardless of Phillip’s satisfaction with the enforcement of a mask policy.