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Florida offering help to some workers fired for refusing vaccines

Florida is one of few states that makes it easier for fired unvaccinated workers to collect unemployment benefits.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Unlike some states, Florida is not rolling out any new restrictions to slow the spread of the omicron variant.

The state is instead moving forward with a new law designed to help people fired for refusing to get vaccinated.

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.

Florida is one of four states to pass laws making it easier for government workers to collect unemployment if they refuse to follow the vaccination mandates.

The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for large employers on Jan. 7.

The rule is currently scheduled to take effect a few days later.

About the Authors:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.