BY JENNIFER CABRERA
Judge Monica Brasington of the 8th Judicial Circuit in Alachua County has granted a temporary injunction to City of Gainesville employees who filed a lawsuit against the City’s vaccine mandate. The order can be found here.
The lawsuit was filed by over 200 plaintiffs, and the judge granted their request to block enforcement of the City’s vaccine mandate for employees. Specifically, the order says, “The City shall not enforce the Vaccine Mandate policy” and “The City shall not terminate or discipline any employee for failure to comply with the Vaccine Mandate.” The mandate required employees to be “fully vaccinated” on or before October 30, 2021.
Attorney Jeff Childers argued at the hearing on September 20 that the City’s policy “facially implicates their right to privacy under the Florida Constitution,” which requires the Court to review the policy under a strict scrutiny standard.
However, the City’s attorney, Daniel Nee, did not present any evidence or witnesses at the hearing. As the order says, “Without any evidence, the Court is unable to consider whether the Vaccine Mandate serves a compelling interest through the least restrictive means, whether the Vaccine Mandate meets a strict scrutiny test, a rational basis test, or whether it meets any other standard.”
Judge Brasington cited Childers’ earlier case, Green v. Alachua County, in stating that “The right to privacy guarantees provided to Florida citizens under the Florida Constitution are broader than the right to privacy guarantees provided to citizens under the U.S. Constitution.” She further wrote that “If a challenged law implicates Florida’s right to privacy, the burden shifts to the government to prove that the law furthers a compelling state interest in the least restrictive way–also known as the ‘strict scrutiny’ standard.”
The judge continued, “The City had an opportunity to present evidence that would show that this Vaccine Mandate was the least restrictive means to meet a compelling government interest. The City did not do that and, in fact, did not present any evidence at all. Therefore, the Court is required to find that the City failed to meet its burden of proving that the Vaccine Mandate furthers a compelling state interest in the least restrictive way.”