28 Apr

April 2021 Florida HR Legal Updates

Posted at

2:08pm

in

Florida Employers Prohibited from Requiring Vaccine Passport   

Update Applicable to:
All businesses operating within Florida.

What happened?
On April 2, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Executive Order 21-81. The executive order prohibits businesses from requiring that patrons and customers show proof of vaccination to enter or receive service from a business.

What are the details?
The order does not, however, prohibit businesses from instituting other COVID-19 screening protocols to protect public health. State agencies will work to ensure that businesses comply with the mandate, and businesses that do not comply will be ineligible for contracts or grants funded through state revenue. The order is intended to remain in place for the duration of the COVID-19 Florida State of Emergency.

Notably, the order does not prohibit businesses from requiring their employees from showing proof of vaccination.

The executive order can be found here.

An article going over these changes can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers operating in Florida should ensure their workplace practices do not require COVID-19 Vaccine Passports from customers or patrons before serving them, to remain in compliance with the order.

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Florida Implements COVID-19 Liability Shield for Employers        

Update Applicable to:
All businesses operating within Florida.

What happened?
On March 29, 2021, Florida Governor DeSantis signed into law SB 72, a bill granting liability protection to businesses against COVID-19-related injury and death lawsuits.

What are the details?
The new law requires that plaintiffs meet the standard for gross negligence and plead any allegations claiming a COVID-19 legal violation “with particularity.” This means that a plaintiff cannot generally point the finger and claim they experienced some COVID-19 injury while working, visiting, or performing some task at or with a covered establishment. From now on, a plaintiff will have to allege facts that identify the who, what, when, where, and how the injury happened in specific detail or their case will be bounced from the court.

Additionally, the law requires that a plaintiff show on the face of the complaint that the defendant deliberately ignored COVID-19 prevention guidelines. Further, they will need to submit into evidence a signed affidavit from a doctor stating with reasonable medical certainty that an injury or death caused by COVID-19 was a result of the defendant’s actions. If a court determines that the plaintiff has not met their duty, the case will be dismissed and can only to refiled if the plaintiff complies with this provision.

As a result of the new law, if a plaintiff can survive the statutory immunity, they must still show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant was at least grossly negligent and that the defendant’s gross negligence was the proximate cause of their alleged COVID-19-related injury, which is not an easy showing. Prior to the new law, proof of liability for COVID-19 claims could have already been challenging largely due to the difficulty of proving causation.

An article going over the legislation can be found here.

The legislation can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers in Florida should continue to adhere to local and federal guidelines related to COVID-19. Doing so will allow the employer to fully take advantage of the protection afforded by the legislation.

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