Leon County’s vaccine mandate required greater than 700 staff to be vaccinated or be terminated by Oct. 2. Two days later, 14 county staff who refused the vaccine had been fired.
At $5,000 for every violation of a state legislation prohibiting vaccine mandates by authorities employers, the Florida Division of Well being (DOH) Thursday fined the county $3.57 million and gave it 30 days to pay.
In keeping with the DOH’s violation discover mailed to Leon County Administrator Vincent Lengthy, the county is being fined for “714 counts of violating state statute” established beneath Senate Invoice 2006, which bans companies from requiring “vaccine passports” for purchasers and authorities employers from mandating vaccinations for workers.
It’s the primary punitive motion towards a neighborhood authorities beneath Gov. Ron DeSantis’ crackdown on native public well being orders, faculty district masks mandates and pandemic protocols within the office – or, at the very least, the general public office.
Leon County “required greater than 700 staff to offer documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination in an effort to acquire entry to, entry upon, or service from the governmental entity’s operations,” the DOH stated, calling the requirement a “blatant violation of the legislation regarding the ban of vaccine passports.”
“It’s unacceptable that Leon County violated Florida legislation, infringed on present and former staff’ medical privateness, and fired loyal public servants due to their private well being selections,” Gov. Ron DeSantis stated. “We are going to proceed combating for Floridians’ rights and the Florida Division of Well being will proceed to implement the legislation. We’re going to face up for Floridians’ jobs, rise up for Floridians’ livelihoods, and rise up for freedom.”
Lengthy stated Leon County realized it was being fined “by the use of media stories” and stated it stands by its choice and can problem the state’s authorized standing to subject such fines.
“There’s a real disagreement concerning the applicability of the statute and rule, and the county will implement its rights utilizing any treatments out there at legislation, if mandatory,” he stated in a press release. “The county strongly contends our worker vaccination requirement was not solely utterly legally justifiable, however a mandatory and accountable motion to maintain our staff secure, shield the general public and guarantee our readiness as a frontline response group.”
Along with Leon County, Orange Nation and town of Gainesville required staff to be vaccinated or lose their jobs. Different municipalities, corresponding to Miami-Dade Nation and town of Tampa, have insurance policies that require vaccination or weekly checks for the unvaccinated.
Greater than 200 Gainesville staff, together with police and firefighters, sued. Ultimately, town amended the mandate to permit the unvaccinated to be examined weekly.
The DOH stated Gainesville is not going to be fined as a result of it amended its coverage others, corresponding to Orange County, might face “tens of millions and tens of millions” in fines to be issued quickly.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings stated his like Leon County, his county will defend its actions in courtroom.
“Our county legal professional’s workplace believes we’re on stable authorized grounds, each from a federal and a state perspective and so we all know one thing was unsuitable with the directive Gov. DeSantis put out – primarily as a result of there have been no guidelines in place and so we’ll simply should see how that each one works out,” Demings informed the Orlando Sentinel.
DOH additionally plans to prosecute companies that violate SB 2006’s “vaccine passport ban” for purchasers. Greater than 120 alleged violations are “beneath evaluation,” in line with a listing launched on the insistence of the Orlando Sentinel.
Amongst them: Orange County Conference Middle, Disney, Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise traces, AT&T, Northrop Grumman, Florida Division of Regulation Enforcement’s (FDLE) counterterrorism squad, Equinox, Home of Blues and the Miami Marlins.