On November 19, 2021, Governor DeSantis signed HB 1B into law, creating Florida Statute § 381.00317. Section 381.00317 prohibits private employer COVID-19 vaccination mandates unless the employer provides employees certain individual exemptions from the vaccine requirement. These exemptions include the following:
- A medical exemption for those whose physician, physician assistant or advanced practice registered nurse provides an opinion to the employee that vaccination is not in the best medical interest of the employee;
- A religious exemption for those who refuse vaccination for sincerely held religious beliefs;
- A COVID-19 immunity exemption;
- A periodic testing exemption where the employee agrees to comply with a regular testing regime; and
- An employer-provided personal protective equipment exemption where the employee agrees to wear employer-provided personal protective equipment in the presence of other employees or other persons.
Section 381.00317 charges the Department of Legal Affairs with responsibility of investigating complaints by employees regarding business compliance with the new law. The Department has developed a complaint process to review employee complaints. If the business has not terminated the employee, a business who violates the law is given an opportunity to cure its non-compliance. A business that either terminates or does the functional equivalent to terminating an employee can be fined, if they do not reinstate an employee, depending on the size of the employer after considering mitigating or aggravating factors.
Employees wishing to file a complaint must complete the Department’s Private Employer Vaccination Mandate Complaint Form (DLA Form No. VAX 1). The complaint form may be filled out online by clicking here. You will be required to submit the exemption form(s) submitted to your employer and any other supporting documentation with your complaint. Complaints submitted online will be processed more quickly. Complaints may also be submitted by email to: email@example.com or by U.S. Mail to: Department of Legal Affairs, Private Employer Vaccine Mandate Program, PL-01, the Capitol, Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050.
Affected employees may have other legal rights. Some of these rights may have time limitations. The Department cannot provide you with legal advice. You should talk to an attorney if you believe you were terminated based on unlawful discrimination.