DeSantis signs bills to prevent employers from firing workers over COVID-19 vaccination mandates

BRANDON, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Thursday that will prevent employers from firing workers over COVID-19 vaccination mandates and allow parents to decide whether to vaccinate their children.

The bills were passed through a special session of the Florida Legislature.

>>> STREAM CHANNEL 9 EYEWITNESS NEWS LIVE <<<

DeSantis said the legislation is the “strongest pro-freedom, anti-mandate action taken by any state in the nation.”

The following is effective immediately in Florida:

READ: Florida House approves bill that could impose fines for businesses requiring COVID-19 vaccine

  • Private employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates are prohibited.
  • Employees can choose from numerous exemptions, including health or religious concerns, pregnancy or anticipated future pregnancy and past recovery from COVID-19.
  • Employees can choose to opt for periodic testing or PPE as an exemption.
  • Employers must cover the costs of testing and PPE exemptions for employees.
  • Employers who violate these employee health protections will be fined.
  • Small businesses (99 employees or fewer) will face a $10,000 per employee fine. Medium and big businesses will face a $50,000 per employee fine.
  • Government entities may not require COVID-19 vaccinations of anyone, including employees.
  • Educational institutions may not require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • School districts may not have school face mask policies.
  • School districts may not quarantine healthy students.
  • Students and parents may sue violating school districts and recover costs and attorney’s fees.

READ: Agriculture commissioner calls for investigation into state’s high gas prices

“I told Floridians that we would protect their jobs, and today, we made that the law,” DeSantis said. “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.”

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said during the news conference that the state is challenging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rule in court. Click here to read more about it.

“Gov. DeSantis has shown exemplary leadership throughout the pandemic, and I am proud to stand with him as we challenge unlawful vaccine mandates forced on Floridians by the president and his power-hungry bureaucrats,” Moody said. “I will always fight for freedom, Florida’s sovereignty and the autonomy of American workers.”

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.