TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — From masks to vaccines, Florida has been butting heads with the federal government for months. But, who are employers supposed to listen to?
Legal expert Jeff Swartz from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School tells us, on one hand, a judge has already pumped the brakes on the OSHA vaccine mandate for right now. But on the other hand, Florida doesn’t have anything on the books, yet, that would penalize an employer if they implemented their own vaccine mandate.
So for right now, it’s up to your boss.
Even if the governor signs the bill, it could take two to five years before the state takes control.
But even with that – how much control would Florida have if the courts ruled in favor of OSHA’s federal vaccine mandates?
"Florida can do whatever they want with their government, but they cannot interfere with the federal government under a mandate from Congress," Swartz said. "That means that OSHA, that is the federal agency, would still stand, and would still have to be obeyed with even if Florida tried to say we don’t have to. Yes, they have to."
If that’s the case, and Florida would still have to follow OSHA’s rules, then what’s the purpose of making our own state-run version of the agency?
Swartz says, he believes it’s to appeal to certain voters.
"I think the strategy’s all political," he said. "It comes down to the fact that the governor, and Florida’s administrations, want to show that they are backing the people who are anti-vaccine mandates."
But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Aridan Zika (R-FL), says the "forced firing of Floridians, is not the Florida way."
During the special session, he said, "we are being faced as a state, with a federal overreach by mandating, on Florida’s families, a looming deadline that they could lose their job. It’s in our interest of our state, that we explore creation of state’s OSHA for this state. And that’s the reason, in my view, this is an important legislation to start that process."