TWC hotline for Texans to report workplace vaccine mandates receives 280 calls so far

Texas
The Texas Workforce Commission reported an average of 1.7 million monthly calls to its call centers. Many calls have nothing to do with unemployment benefits and are leading to clogged phone lines, the agency claims. (KXAN Photo/Jody Barr)

The Texas Workforce Commission reported an average of 1.7 million monthly calls to its call centers. Many calls have nothing to do with unemployment benefits and are leading to clogged phone lines, the agency claims. (KXAN Photo/Jody Barr)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A hotline made so Texans who have been fired over COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the workplace can report it to the state has received more than 1,200 emails and about 280 calls in the week since its creation.

The Texas Workforce Commission launched the hotline and email in a letter to Texas employers Dec. 8, saying any employee subjected to a vaccine mandate that’s in violation of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order can notify the TWC. Verified tips would be referred to the appropriate authorities for prosecution, according to the letter.

A week after the letter was sent out, a TWC spokesperson says not all tips received from workers were to report vaccine mandates. Some wanted answers to general vaccine questions, and others were looking for the status of their claim.

“As of December 15 at 8 a.m., TWC had received 1,251 emails at vaccine_job_loss@twc.texas.gov and approximately 280 calls to option 3 on the hotline at 1-800-939-6631. Not all of the phone calls or emails were complaints. Some of the messages related to general vaccine questions, the status of a claim, or someone contacting TWC with other information,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Gov. Greg Abbott encouraged Texans to use the phone number and email on Twitter after the TWC letter came out Dec. 8.

“Since day one, Texas has taken a stand against the federal government’s unconstitutional COVID-19 vaccine mandates,” Abbott wrote. “We have now created a hotline for Texas employees to report illegal vaccine mandates. The COVID-19 vaccine will always be voluntary & never forced in Texas.”

KXAN has reported extensively on the TWC’s handling of unemployment claims during the pandemic, including learning how the agency paid out $203 million in benefits it shouldn’t have paid out in the first place.

And after the agency hired a few contracted call centers to increase its number of call takers, a few of the contracted call takers told KXAN they couldn’t help claimants with unemployment account problems. Each said they were only authorized to help callers file an initial claim or make minor modifications to personal information in the claim.

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