Florida COVID laws for employees have constantly evolved since the beginning of the pandemic. The legal issues are certainly complex surrounding the Florida vaccine mandate and other issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., we strive to keep workers informed of Florida COVID laws for employees and other new legislation in our ongoing mission to stand up for the rights of workers across the state.
Do you think your rights may have been violated under the Florida vaccine mandate? There are very particular rules that include exemptions for the Florida vaccine mandate in 2022. If you have been fired, you may be able to get reinstated. You may also be awarded back pay.
If employers violate Florida COVID laws for employees, we are here to help. Read more to find out if your rights may have been violated, and what you can do next.
2022 Florida COVID Laws
Employers across the state now have limitations on their ability to mandate vaccinations for COVID-19. Florida Statute § 381.00317 will remain in effect throughout the rest of 2022 and until June 1, 2023. The legislation gives employees five exemptions from the Florida vaccine mandate.
These are exemptions based on:
This can include but is not limited to pregnancy or anticipated pregnancy.
To claim this exemption: The employee must have a physician, physician assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse that has examined them sign an exemption statement that a COVID-19 vaccination is not in the best medical interest of the employee. Then, the employee must present the statement to the employer.
To claim this exemption: The employee must present an exemption statement to the employer that says they declined the COVID-19 vaccination due to a sincerely held religious belief.
To claim this exemption: The employee must have documented competent medical evidence in the form of test results from a laboratory that they have immunity to COVID-19. Then, the employee must present that information in an exemption statement to the employer.
To claim this exemption: The employee must present an exemption statement to the employer that they will submit to regular testing for the presence of COVID-19 (at no personal cost).
Employer-provided personal protective equipment (PPE).
To claim this exemption: The employee must present an exemption statement to the employer that indicates they will comply with the employer’s reasonable written requirement to wear/use employer-provided PPE when they are in the presence of other employees.
The forms created by the Florida Department of Health (or substantially similar forms) must be utilized to submit exemption statements.
COVID, Wrongful Termination, and Retaliation
Employees have been subject to wrongful termination and retaliation before the pandemic, and unfortunately, it has continued to occur while the state, country, and the world have been dealing with COVID.
The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act of 2021, under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, covered employees in specified qualifying circumstances through special funds.This was a $570 million emergency fund administered by the Director of the Office of Personnel Management during the qualifying period from March 11, 2021, through September 30, 2021.
If an employer violated the terms of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, including firing, retaliating, or discriminating against an employee, it would be a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employees may be eligible to seek and recover damages.
If an employer has failed to comply with Florida COVID laws for employees and fires an employee, the worker can file a complaint with the Florida Department of Legal Affairs. This failure to comply could be due to not offering an exemption to the employee or if the exemption was improperly applied or denied – leading to the firing of the employee. Under current Florida COVID laws, an employer could face administrative fines of $50,000 per violation that would be paid to the state.
Although Florida Statute § 381.00317does not provide a private right of action for employees, there are conflicts between federal and state law that are still being sorted out in the courts.
COVID and Unpaid Wages
Have you been terminated due to the Florida vaccine mandate? You may be able to be reinstated to your job and receive back pay for wages you would have received if you had not been fired.
Employee rights attorneys fight for the rights of workers and provide legal assistance for employees who have been subjected to violations of unpaid wage laws.
Other federal and state laws continue to protect the rights of employees to fair pay. This includes the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Florida minimum wage laws. These guarantee fair pay for hours worked, overtime for those who qualify, and a minimum wage above the federal standard. Did you know that Florida’s minimum wage is set to rise to $11.00/hour at the end of September 2022? With the stress on the economy and business owners during COVID, employers may attempt to not pay the rightful minimum wage mandated by the state. Employees still deserve fair wages. Consult with an attorney if you believe you are not receiving fair pay.
Florida COVID Laws for employees and multiple other employee rights laws continue to protect workers across the state.
Protecting Your Employee Rights
Through the evolution of Florida COVID laws for employees, Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. continues to lead at the forefront of employee rights. The quagmire that exists in the conflict between federal and state laws surrounding COVID does not automatically release employers from their responsibility to honor the rights of their employees.
We have been standing up for the rights of employees in Florida for decades. We are experienced, dedicated attorneys that have helped thousands of employees across the state get the justice and compensation they deserve.
We are here to help. We have extensive legal experience advocating for employees in multiple areas of employee rights and have a deep appreciation for the complex and difficult legal nature of employee rights during COVID.
Contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.