Florida’s Leon County is facing a $3.57 million fine for mandating vaccines for its 714 employees, the Tallahassee Democrat is reporting.
The newspaper said the mandate by Leon County Administrator Vince Long applied to all its employees except those who fell under a select few exemptions. The deadline for meeting the requirement was Oct. 2.
A total of 14 workers were dismissed after they declined to get the vaccine.
A violation notice from the Florida Department of Health was sent to county officials on Oct. 6.
"Leon County government is assessed a total fine of $3,570,000.00," Florida Department of Health Division Director Douglas Woodlief wrote. "Payment must be made within 30 days of the final order in this matter," indicating check or money order was acceptable.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had said in mid-September that he would not allow Floridians to be fired because of vaccine mandates.
"It is unacceptable that Leon County violated Florida law, infringed on current and former employees' medical privacy, and fired loyal public servants because of their personal health decisions," a statement from the governor's office said. "Gov. DeSantis will continue fighting for Floridians' rights and the Florida Department of Health will continue to enforce the law."
According to First Coast News, the notice from the state Department of Health listed the following events as reasons for the violations and fine:
- On July 28, Leon County required all employees to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide verification by Oct. 1.
- As of Oct. 2, 700 county employees had provided documentation.
- On Oct. 14, the 14 employees who had not submitted their documentation were fired.
Long, in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat, said the mandate was necessary in the interest of public health.
"It’s obvious to me that the governor’s position here is political strategy which has nothing to do with the positions we’ve taken," he said. "The governor’s response to that is unfortunate, and we plan to assert our legal rights to support the actions we’ve taken, which we believe are not only completely legally justifiable but are the most responsible thing we could do in this case in keeping with all of the public health guidance."
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