State of Florida Settles with Leon County over Vaccine Mandate

The State of Florida has agreed to withdraw its $3.5 million penalty directed to the Leon County government over the county’s vaccine mandate. The county rescinded its vaccine mandates earlier this month after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed legislation requiring alternatives to forced COVID vaccinations.

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Leon County Government Terminates 14 Employees Due to Vaccine Mandate

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 County 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.”

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DeSantis Administration Responds to Leon County Vaccination Mandate

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) has responded to the reminder letters sent this week by Leon County Government informing employees that without proof of a COVID vaccination they would be terminated on October 4, 2021.

In response to Leon County’s communication, the letter from FDOH Division Director David Woodlief to County Administrator Vince Long seeks information about those impacted by Leon County’s vaccine mandate policy.

Specifically, FDOH is seeking the names of employees that received the letters and the names of employees who submitted documentation as proof of vaccination.

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Florida Mayor Threatening Reprimands for Unvaccinated Employees

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings is threatening reprimands for unvaccinated workers. 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.”

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Gov. DeSantis to Levy Fines on Florida Cities That Implement Vaccine Mandates

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced this week the state will be imposing $5,000 fines per violation toward cities and local municipalities that implement vaccine mandates for their employers.

“People that have put in 10, 15, 20 years, and now they’re just going to get cast aside by some onerous mandate? That is wrong, and so we let it be known today, we’re going to be enforcing Florida law against that,” DeSantis said.

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Florida Local Officials Mandate COVID-19 Vaccination for Government Employees

Amid the rise in COVID-19 cases in Florida, government officials for Leon and Orange counties have decided to make the COVID-19 vaccination a condition for employment for their workers. 

On Wednesday, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings signed an executive order for the requirement while Leon County Administrator Vince Long notified employees through email.

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