The Florida Department of Health is fining Leon County more than $3.5 million over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for county employees.
The total fine of $3,570,000 if for 714 violations of a Florida statute that prohibits governmental entities from requiring proof of vaccination, according to a letter from the department of health to Leon County Administrator Vincent Long.
The letter said payment must be made within 30 days of entry of the final order in the matter, and said the county can petition for an administrative hearing within 21 days.
In July, Long announced that all employees of Leon County, home to the state capital in Tallahassee, would be required to be fully vaccinated and had to provide documentation by Oct. 1.
By Oct. 2, 700 county employees had provided proof of vaccination, but 14 employees who didn't provide proof were fired by the county on Oct. 4.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has threatened to fine cities and counties "millions" of dollars for requiring employees to get vaccinated, saying they'll face a $5,000 fine per violation.
"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," a deSantis spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday. "Governor DeSantis will continue fighting for Floridians’ rights and the Florida Department of Health will continue to enforce the law."
Other Florida municipalities like Orange County had required employees to get vaccinated but said workers would receive written reprimands instead of lose their job.