WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A Florida tax collector has ordered her employees to get the coronavirus vaccine or risk being fired.
Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon told her 315 employees last week of her decision after doing research and concluding she could legally do it, she told the Palm Beach Post.
She said her employees have contact with the public and two workers tested positive last week. Many others tested positive earlier and one died.
The collector’s office is semi-autonomous and its revenue comes from a percentage of the taxes it collects for other agencies and from fees it charges for services such as issuing vehicle registrations.
“For every person who gets COVID, it costs our business money and it gives us an inability to meet our customer needs,” said Gannon, who was first elected in 2006. “I have a responsibility to protect my employees and the public.”
Gannon doesn’t know the exact number, but said most of her employees have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Some, however, have been hesitant, pointing to false claims that the vaccine can cause infertility, she said.
No deadline has been set and employees will be allowed to cite religious or medical reasons if they refuse, Gannon said. If they have neither and refuse to get vaccinated, they cannot return to work and must use up their vacation and other time-off allotment. Once that is used up, they will be fired if they don’t return within a short period, she said.
She said she is working with the county health department to set up vaccinations at her office’s worksites to make it easier for employees to get their shots.