Leon County Attorney’s Office prepared to fight $3.57 million fine
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Leon County Attorney’s Office is preparing to fight fines handed down by the Florida Department of Health.
The Department of Health is fining Leon County $3.57 million dollars for requiring its employees to provide proof of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, saying it violates the Governor’s vaccine passport ban passed last spring.
According to the state statute, government entities cannot require someone to show proof of vaccination or of COVID recovery to enter buildings or receive government services.
In July, Leon County passed a resolution requiring employees to provide proof of vaccination by October, unless they receive a special exemption for a disability, medical concern or religious belief.
Following that deadline, the county said 700 employees were vaccinated, 30 employees were given exemptions and 14 were terminated for failure to provide proof.
During a press conference on September 13, Governor Ron DeSantis commented on vaccine mandates at the county level, saying he was going to fight for Florida jobs.
“We cannot let these folks be cast aside,” DeSantis said. “We cannot allow their jobs to be destroyed and their families and livelihoods, potentially, to be destroyed as well.”
On Tuesday the DOH announced Leon County was facing 714 counts for violating the state ban.
In a statement, a DOH spokesperson said, “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. Governor DeSantis will continue fighting for Floridians’ rights and the Florida Department of Health will continue to enforce the law.”
During Tuesday’s Leon County Board of Commissioners meeting, Attorney Chasity O’Steen said her office will fight the $3.57 million fines.
“The board has authorized that we intend to fight and assert our legal rights and remedies available to us so that we can continue to again, protect our citizens and to have a workforce ready to respond to the needs of our community,” Administrator Vince Long said during Tuesday’s meeting.
The board also voted to authorize the attorney’s office to call a “shade” meeting. This allows the attorney’s office to meet with the board in private to discuss specific details about strategies of the case.
The DOH says Leon County has 30 days to pay the fine.
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