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Florida offers help for workers fired over COVID vaccine

Matt Slocum

Following passage of a new state law, the Department of Economic Opportunity moved forward Tuesday with a rule that would allow government workers to be eligible for unemployment benefits if they are let go from jobs for refusing to comply with coronavirus vaccination mandates.

A notice of the rule, published in the Florida Administrative Register, said it “provides that claimants discharged from educational institutions and governmental entities will not be disqualified from benefits if the discharge is for refusing to comply with a COVID-19 vaccination mandate.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a wide-ranging bill (HB 1B) passed in a November special legislative session that said refusing to comply with vaccination mandates isn’t considered “misconduct” for the purpose of receiving unemployment benefits.

For benefits to be provided, employers also must have failed to offer vaccination exemptions, such as for medical or religious reasons.

The law also prohibits public education institutions or government agencies from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of employment and authorizes the Department of Health to impose fines of up to $5,000 per violation.