On November 17, the Florida Legislature passed legislation that will protect unvaccinated workers from federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
The legislation, which included four separate bills, was approved during a special three-day legislative session convened by Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Florida).
DeSantis signed the four bills into law on November 18 and they became effective immediately.
Florida is the first state to put into law financial penalties for any business that requires proof of vaccination against Covid-19 as a condition of employment.
Small businesses with 99 employees or fewer will face $10,000 per employee violation. Medium to big businesses will face $50,000 per employee violation.
The bills stipulate that private businesses are not allowed to mandate Covid-19 vaccines, unless they offer workers the ability to opt out for medical reasons, religious beliefs, immunity from previous Covid-19 infection, regular testing, or an agreement to wear protective gear.
Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo will be in charge of determining the standards for the employee exemptions. Ladapo, like DeSantis also opposes vaccine mandates.
Another significant measure of this legislation prohibits Florida schools and government entities from issuing Covid-19 vaccine mandates.
School districts may not have mandatory school face mask policies, and they may not quarantine healthy students. Students and parents may also sue a school district if the district violates any of these policies.
At the bill signing, Gov. DeSantis said, “I told Floridians that we would protect their jobs and today we made that the law. Nobody should lose their job due to heavy-handed COVID mandates and we had a responsibility to protect the livelihoods of the people of Florida. I’m thankful to the Florida Legislature for joining me in standing up for freedom.”