State issues Leon County $3.5 million fine over ‘vaccine passport’ violations

The state cites 714 violations by the county, each violation receiving a fine of $5,000

DeSantis: Cities to pay big fines for forcing COVID vaccines
DeSantis: Cities to pay big fines for forcing COVID vaccines

LEON COUNTY, Fla. – The Florida Department of Health is now making good on Gov. Ron DeSantis’s threats to punish any local government that mandated vaccines as a condition of employment for its workers.

The state issued Leon County fines totaling $3,570,000 for “its blatant violation of the law relating to the ban of vaccine passports,” according to a news release.

The notice of violation from the DOH said “Leon County Government required 714 employees, or former employees... to provide documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination in order to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the governmental entity’s operations in this state.”

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The state added that 14 employees of the county had been terminated “as a result of their refusal or failure to submit documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination.”

“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,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement. “We will continue fighting for Floridians’ rights and the Florida Department of Health will continue to enforce the law. We’re going to stand up for Floridians’ jobs, stand up for Floridians’ livelihoods, and stand up for freedom.”

The state is issuing fines of $5,000 per violation. The notice of violation states that payment of the fine must be made within 30 days.

The DOH statement said that the City of Gainesville was also warned of potential fines for its employee vaccine mandate. The state said this warning prompted the city to rescind that mandate.

DeSantis announced these fines would be coming in September. In his comments, he specifically called out Gainesville and Orange County.

“You will face a $5,000 fine for every single violation and so if you look at places here in Alachua County, like the City of Gainesville, I mean that’s millions and millions of dollars potentially in fines, Orange County (will see) many, many more than that,” DeSantis said.

A spokesperson for Orange County said that leaders there have not yet received any notice of violation from the state. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings had previously said, the county has the authority to impose such mandates.

“Our county attorney’s office believes that we are on solid legal grounds, both from a federal and a state perspective and so we know that something was wrong with the directive that Gov. DeSantis put out — primarily because there were no rules in place and so we’ll just have to see how that all works out,” Demings said.

Read the full notice of violation sent to Leon County below:


About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.