Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings is threatening reprimands for unvaccinated employees. Demings said he has not wanted to fire anyone over vaccination status saying the county is a “caring” employer.
“It was never my intention to terminate anyone from our employment,” Demings said. “We’re a compassionate and caring employer, but we also must balance that with protecting our employees and the public.”
Demings said approximately 84 percent of its employees are vaccinated, but the biggest push-back has come from Orange County’s firefighters, where over 500 of the 1,456 fire department employees have yet to receive their shot.
Other Florida cities and municipal governments imposing vaccine mandates have experienced push-back from the state as well as their own employees.
Last week, Judge Monica Brasington of the 8th Judicial Circuit Court issued a temporary injunction against the City of Gainesville’s vaccine mandate. The ruling was an early victory for the City of Gainesville employees who filed suit.
“We’ve already seen that all Florida courts agree that compelled medical treatments intrude into a citizen’s legitimate expectation of privacy,” said Jeff Childers, attorney representing the City of Gainesville employees. “I’ve quoted a U.S. Supreme Court (decision) in my brief that said that absolutely anything that pierces the skin invades the right of privacy.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has also threatened local governments for imposing vaccine mandates.
“If a government agency in the state of Florida forces a vaccine as a condition of employment that violates Florida law, and you will face a $5,000 fine for every single violation,” DeSantis said.
In Leon County, Florida’s capital county, Administrator Vince Long announced a vaccine requirement and has not backed down knowing fines from the state could be incoming.
“Unfortunately, and despite the tireless efforts of public health professionals, political rhetoric continues to dangerously exacerbate the fear and confusion about vaccinations,” said Long. “In a public health emergency, clarity of information remains critical. This is why it is necessary that I clarify that vaccinations as a condition of employment in Leon County is legal and will remain in effect. We will continue to act responsibly to ensure our operational readiness to respond to the needs of our community and to keep our employees safe.”
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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Mayor Jerry Demings” by Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings.