Former Orange County firefighter sues over termination due to insubordination of vaccine mandate

Stephen Davis was fired in October 2021

A former battalion chief with Orange County Fire Rescue is suing over what he claims was an “unlawful termination” for insubordination amid a now voided vaccine mandate for county employees.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A former battalion chief with Orange County Fire Rescue is suing over what he claims was an “unlawful termination” for insubordination amid a now voided vaccine mandate for county employees.

Stephen Davis was fired in October 2021 after he refused to discipline and issue written warnings to firefighters who failed to comply with Orange County’s vaccine mandate for county employees.

According to the lawsuit, Davis believed the orders to issue written reprimands were a violation of federal and state law because the firefighters who were to be disciplined were “timely requesting accommodation through exemption of the vaccine mandate.”

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It also claims that he made formal written complaints about those orders “through official channels” and as such believes that his firing is a violation of Florida’s Whistle-blowers act.

The lawsuit calls for Davis to be reinstated as a battalion chief, have his benefits reinstated and that he receive back pay for his time off the job.

Records show on Oct. 4, 2021, Davis knew the county was going to begin testing personnel who did not complete vaccination verification.

Davis did not write up employees who did not give their COVID-19 vaccination status.

Records show Davis refused to comply with orders from Chief Kimberly Buffkin to issue reprimands to personnel who did not complete vaccination verification.

In September 2021, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said any firefighter who did not comply with the county’s vaccination mandate would get hit with a written reprimand.

Ultimately, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law banning vaccine mandates in the state in November 2021.

News 6 reached out to Orange County for comment on the lawsuit. This story will be updated if the county responds.

You can read the full lawsuit below:

Document by Thomas Mates on Scribd


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.