Florida restaurants firing employee for refusing to comply with Biden administration’s workforce vaccination mandate face $ 50,000 fine under conflicting law enacted this week last by state.
The state measure prohibits private sector employers from imposing a COVID-19 vaccine requirement on their workers, unless a number of specified exemptions are also offered. These exceptions extend beyond the limited outings provided for by the federal requirement.
For example, employers in Florida who wish to impose a vaccine requirement should excuse any employee who is or is planning to become pregnant, or who wears a face mask and other personal protective equipment (PPE) instead of being vaccinate.
None of these exemptions are included in the pending federal rule, which has been suspended until a federal court determines its constitutionality. It is expected to come into force on January 4 for companies employing at least 100 workers.
State and federal measures offer employees the option to be tested periodically for COVID-19 instead of getting vaccinated. But under the directive issued by the White House, employers are not required to pay for the tests. Florida law places this financial burden on the business, not on the employee.
It also requires employers to pay for the PPE an employee uses to be exempt from a vaccine requirement.
Both measures provide for exemptions for religious or health reasons. But the federal government has already indicated that covered restaurants and other employers can bypass the religious exemption if it represents a more than insignificant financial burden on the employer.
The national requirement does not provide for an outing for pregnant employees, let alone those who plan to become pregnant one day. It also does not exempt employees who have previously contacted and recovered from COVID-19, as the Florida measure allows.
Florida law, developed in an emergency legislative session convened by Gov. Ron DeSantis, provides severe penalties for firing employees because they requested one of the exemptions provided for in the measure. State but not in the federal requirement. An offender with fewer than 100 employees is liable to a fine of $ 10,000 per staff member terminated or per violation. Companies with at least 100 employees, the threshold of the federal mandate, are liable to a fine of $ 50,000.
Florida is home to a number of major restaurant employers, including Darden Restaurants, parent of Olive Garden; Bloomin ‘Brands, owner of Outback Steakhouse; and the Burger King and Popeyes franchisor, Restaurant Brands International. At the individual restaurant level, it is home to more dining venues than any other state except California and Texas.
A Bloomin spokesperson said Florida law had not changed its approach to vaccinations. The casual dining giant said it intends to continue encouraging employees to get vaccinated while reviewing the federal mandate.
Likewise, a spokesperson for Firehouse Subs indicated that the sandwich chain, newly acquired by Restaurant Brands International, intends to see what happens with the federal requirement.
On Friday, the day after DeSantis enacted the bill, The Walt Disney Co. alerted employees at the mega-resort Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. That they would no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination. as a condition of I work there. An internal memo cited by local media said the entertainment giant was no longer able to enforce a vaccine requirement imposed in July.
Florida law sets up a jurisdictional struggle with the Biden administration, which has maintained since the president proposed the national employee term on September 9 that it has the constitutional power to enforce it. The emergency measure is already facing a challenge to its legality in a lawsuit assigned to a Cincinnati district appeals court. This measure is a consolidation of 34 individual legal challenges filed by states, associations and at least one restaurant operator, Gulf Coast Restaurant Group.
Florida isn’t the only state that has taken steps to undermine Biden’s plan. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order in October that prevents any employer in the state from imposing a vaccination warrant on their employees.
Texas, like Florida, is home to a significant number of restaurant companies and suppliers, including Chile’s parent company, Brinker International, TGI Fridays, Landry’s Restaurant Group, and Sysco.
The Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would prohibit local employers from imposing a vaccination warrant on employees. The measure is now moving to the State Senate.
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