Legislation signed by DeSantis forces Florida companies to back off vaccine mandates: Report

Legislation signed last week by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in the town of Brandon has forced companies implementing vaccine mandates to reverse course on terminating employees that refused to comply, Fox News reports. 

Some hospitals began calling workers back after terminating them for not getting vaccinated, such as Ascension St. Vincent’s Hospital in Clay County, where nearly 100 employees were terminated.

“It appears at this point, the hospital is calling their staff back into work,” Florida attorney Greg Crosslin said, according to local NBC affiliate WJHG.

Standing up for freedom

As part of one of several bills DeSantis signed during Florida’s special legislative session, private employers are required to give employees a way to opt out of the vaccine, including religious or medical exemptions.

“I told Floridians that we would protect their jobs, and today we made that the law,” DeSantis said in a press release last week, according to Fox. “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.”

Ascension CEO Tom VanOsdol confirmed that the employees were being called back, but said that it was awaiting further guidance and that suspensions could be reinstated.

“This is only a temporary victory. They could still be facing termination for vaccine mandate all over again in January,” Crosslin said, as Fox reported.

A spokesperson for the hospital said it didn’t have a vaccine mandate, however, only that unvaccinated staff were asked to wear N95 masks.

Disney pauses vaccine mandate

Walt Disney World also paused its mandate for employees after the law was signed.

“We believe that our approach to mandatory vaccines has been the right one as we’ve continued to focus on the safety and well-being of our cast members and guests, and at this point, more than 90% of active Florida-based cast members have already verified that they are fully vaccinated,” a Disney spokesperson said, according to Fox. “We will address legal developments as appropriate.”

President Joe Biden’s national vaccine mandate for employers with more than 100 employees has been stayed by an appeals court, and will not be implemented until the court challenge is decided, if it is decided favorably to the mandate.

The national pause gives conservative states a chance to make their own laws about vaccines. And that’s exactly what DeSantis seems determined to do.

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