Some business owners fear they'll lose employees with vaccine mandates

As more employers are requiring employees to provide proof of vaccination, some workers are still refusing to get vaccinated choosing to resign or be fired. A restaurant owner in San Jose anticipates losing at least 10 percent of his workforce because of the vaccine mandate.

"Part of it feels like we are kind of shooting ourselves in the foot because we looking out for other people’s safety. We are going to be losing really good team members," said SP2 Restaurant Owner Eric Nielsen."

 SP2 is the first restaurant in San Jose that made it mandatory for all customers and staff to be vaccinated. While some unvaccinated employees got the shot after the mandate, others are not as willing.

"They don't trust it and more importantly they feel it’s been forced upon them," said Nielsen.

The staff must be vaccinated by Sept. 15. Some have indicated they’ll resign.

MORE: San Jose mayor aims to require vaccination proof in city buildings, at large events

"It’s at least 10 percent," said Nielsen. "I’m pretty sure we are going to lose, we plan on losing around that amount."

 On Friday, San Francisco Symphony announced its chorus director is stepping down because of the vaccination policy issued by the City of San Francisco and the symphony.

 In June, 153 employees at Houston Methodist Hospital lost their jobs after not getting the shot.

 "There are lots of lawsuits out there and quite uniformly they are failing," said David Levine, UC Berkeley professor of law.

 Legal analysts said a Supreme Court ruling from 1905, Jacobson vs. Massachusetts, upholds state and private employers to enforce vaccines for public health measures as long as employers provide exemptions.

"I’ve seen no court being willing to shift away from that," said Levine.

 Employment lawyers said unemployment benefits aren’t guaranteed.

 "If an individual quits voluntarily or is fired for a cause meaning they violated a company policy, that could mean they could lose their right to receive these benefits," said Gary Lafayette of Lafayette & Kumagai LLP.

 SP2’s owner said his mandate is in place to keep the rest of his staff, who choose to be vaccinated, safe.

 "I have people who have children that we have to make sure we have a safe environment for them to be able to earn a living and be able to provide for their family," said Nielsen.

 Nielsen said he is willing to offer COVID testing only to those employees with exemptions. Those who resign are eligible to get their jobs back once the pandemic is over.

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Azenith at and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or