Florida companies can still impose vaccine restrictions after latest ruling

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A pair of Supreme Court rulings Thursday divided health care workers from the rest of private sector employees, though another group could join them soon.

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A majority of justices decided the Biden administration could not force employers to enact vaccine mandates, deciding OSHA did not have the authority to implement such a rule unless Congress authorized it.

However, a different majority decided a narrower rule tailored toward health care workers did pass procedural muster. All workers at facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid will be required to be vaccinated or get a medical or religious exemption.

For Florida companies, the rulings put to rest weeks of uncertainty. Business executives were caught in between Gov. DeSantis’ promise to fine companies that implemented vaccine mandates and the federal government’s orders.

READ: ‘Flurona’: What it is and the symptoms to look out for

Private companies are allowed to enact mandates in Florida, as long as they respect a list of exemptions and allow workers to opt into weekly testing instead.

However, federal laws about healthcare workers supersede Tallahassee.

“That is a legal regulation, and that would apply in Florida and every other state,” George Washington University Law Professor Emeritus Peter Meyers said.

READ: Supreme Court halts COVID-19 vaccine rule for U.S. businesses

He added that since the case wasn’t decided on merits, there are still questions left unanswered.

Thursday night, both AdventHealth and Orlando Health executives said they were studying the court’s rulings. In the meantime, they’re encouraging – but not requiring – their employees to get vaccinated.

“Currently, 96% of our team members are in compliance with the CMS vaccine mandate,” a spokesman wrote. “We intend to be in compliance with the legal requirements and continue to monitor developments impacting its enforcement.”

READ: Universal Orlando will soon require team members to be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 tests

Universal Orlando, which recently announced a test-or-vaccinate requirement for employees, also said they were studying the rulings and would be in touch with staff members.

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