At the end of Friday, October 1, 14 Leon County government employees were terminated from their positions due to non-compliance with Leon County’s vaccine mandate.
In July, Leon County Administrator Vince Long notified all Leon County government employees that vaccinations against COVID-19 would become a condition of employment with the county, citing a “resurgence” of the virus in the county. According to the communication, all employees were required to get vaccinated by October 1.
The employee notification stated:
“Today, as vaccinations stagnate and the delta variant has created a resurgence of the COVID 19 virus with the state of Florida at its epicenter, vaccinations against COVID 19 will now become a condition of employment at Leon County Government for new and existing employees under the supervision of the County Administrator and the County Attorney.”
In a letter sent to all county employees on Saturday, October 2, Long thanked those 700 employees who did become fully vaccinated and the 30 who submitted an accommodation.
“I want to thank all of our employees for doing their part to minimize the very serious health risks to coworkers and their families and for helping to ensure our organizational readiness to provide essential services and to respond to the needs of the community we serve,” Long stated in the letter.
“As we have done throughout the pandemic, Leon County will continue to do everything reasonable and responsible to protect our community, to provide a safe and healthy workplace for our employees…” he wrote.
On Friday, October 1, a letter from the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) was sent to Leon County Administrator Vince Long. In the letter, Director Doug Woodlief asked Long to “immediately rescind its policy (in no event later than 11:59 p.m. on October 1, 2021), which violates Section 381.00316, Florida Statutes, and refrain from terminating any employees” who did not submit proof of vaccination.
The letter from the FDOH threatened Leon County with fines for each employee who was required to submit proof of vaccination. The fines would be $5,000 per employee, totaling $3.5 million for Leon County.
Long vowed to fight back, “there is a genuine disagreement about the applicability of the statute and rule, and the County will enforce its rights using any remedies available at law, if necessary.”
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Steve Stewart is the Managing Editor and a contributor at The Florida Capital Star. Email tips to [email protected]