Disney Forced to Pause Florida Vaccine Mandate Due to New State Legislation

Disney has been forced to pause its vaccine mandate for Florida employees in response to restrictions passed by the Legislature earlier this week limiting employers’ power to require worker vaccination, according to reports from the Orlando Sentinel and WFTV.

What’s Happening:

  • Back in July, Disney made the decision to mandate all salaried and non-union hourly employees in the U.S. to be fully vaccinated by the end of September. In October, the same rule was enacted for most unionized employees.
  • Now, as of Friday, Disney has been forced to pause its vaccine mandate for Florida employees because of the state legislation and an appeal court’s temporary delay of federal vaccination guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
  • All employees who have not verified they are fully vaccinated are still required to wear face coverings and observe social distancing, among other safety protocols.
  • Disney will require unvaccinated cast members to wear protective gear, including N-95 masks and face shields, while on shift as part of the updated safety protocol for these workers specifically.
  • The company also is pausing consideration of vaccine exemption requests from employees and will deem employees who had not yet finished the vaccination verification process unvaccinated for the time being.
  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed this legislation on Thursday, which is aimed at limiting employers’ abilities to carry out vaccine mandates. Employers must allow workers who agree to regular testing and wearing protective gear to be exempt from required vaccination, along with employees who have recovered from COVID-19.

What They’re Saying:

  • A memo from The Walt Disney Company to their employees states: “We remain confident in the approach we have taken with our mandatory vaccine policy for Florida-based Cast Members and employees, with more than 90% of our active Florida-based Cast members and employees having verified that they are fully vaccinated, and we consider this to be very successful.”
  • Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger told the Orlando Sentinel on Saturday the company will “address legal developments as appropriate” in response to the legislation.
  • Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for DeSantis, said Saturday other companies would likely follow Disney’s lead in changing their vaccination policies in accordance with the legislation. “Disney is a major employer in Florida, and we are proud that the ‘happiest place on Earth’ is here in our state,” she said in a statement. “Governor DeSantis’ leadership is saving countless jobs and livelihoods before this holiday season.”
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