FILE - Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt

In this photo from Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt answers questions at a news conference with Republican legislative leaders, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. 

(The Center Square) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican, is calling on Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly to protect state workers from being fired for not complying with federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

“No Americans should be fired from their jobs for declining to comply with a Biden administration edict to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and we're in court fighting hard to defend Kansas workers against this federal overreach,” Schmidt, who's challenging Kelly for governor in 2022, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"If any Kansan is fired for making this personal health care decision, they at least should qualify for unemployment benefits," he added.

Schmidt’s statement comes on the heels of reporting by the Kansas Reflector that found there is no guarantee that fired health care workers will be eligible to receive unemployment.

Peter Brady, deputy secretary of the Kansas Department of Labor, told the Reflector that Kansas’ statutes weren’t much help when he consulted them for guidance on the mandate. He said the issue hinges on whether the employee’s termination is considered a voluntary leave or a termination for cause.

Even so, Brady said his office is continuing to review mandates on a case-by-case basis.

Schmidt has voiced support for legislation that would halt the federal vaccine mandate in Kansas. However, the Legislature has yet to pass such a bill. 

“The Kelly administration needs to fix this problem right away, and if they won't then the legislature needs to fix it for them,” Schmidt said.