Florida Senate - 2021 SB 4-B By Senator Burgess 20-00005-21B 20214B__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to public records; creating s. 3 381.00318, F.S.; providing an exemption from public 4 records requirements for employee complaints alleging 5 a private employer’s violation of state law regarding 6 employer COVID-19 vaccination policies or practices 7 and all information held by the Department of Legal 8 Affairs pursuant to an active investigation of such 9 complaints; defining the term “active”; specifying 10 information that remains confidential and exempt after 11 an investigation is completed or ceases to be active; 12 authorizing the release of confidential and exempt 13 information to governmental entities for a specified 14 purpose; providing construction; providing for future 15 repeal of the exemption; providing a statement of 16 public necessity; providing a contingent effective 17 date. 18 19 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 20 21 Section 1. Section 381.00318, Florida Statutes, is created 22 to read: 23 381.00318 Complaints and investigations regarding private 24 employer COVID-19 vaccination mandates; public records 25 exemption.— 26 (1) An employee complaint alleging a private employer’s 27 violation of s. 381.00317 regarding employer COVID-19 28 vaccination policies or practices, and all information relating 29 to an investigation of such complaint, held by the Department of 30 Legal Affairs is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and 31 s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution until the 32 investigation is completed or ceases to be active. For purposes 33 of this section, an investigation is considered “active” while 34 such investigation is being conducted by the department with a 35 reasonable good faith belief that it may lead to a determination 36 of whether there was a violation of s. 381.00317. An 37 investigation does not cease to be active if the department is 38 proceeding with reasonable dispatch and there is a good faith 39 belief that action may be initiated by the department. 40 (2) After an investigation is completed or ceases to be 41 active, information in records relating to the investigation 42 remains confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), 43 Art. I of the State Constitution if disclosure of that 44 information would do any of the following: 45 (a) Jeopardize the integrity of another active 46 investigation. 47 (b) Reveal medical information about an employee. 48 (c) Reveal information regarding an employee’s religious 49 beliefs. 50 (3) Information made confidential and exempt under this 51 section may be released to another governmental entity in the 52 furtherance of that entity’s lawful duties and responsibilities. 53 (4) This section does not prohibit the disclosure of 54 information in an aggregated format. 55 (5) This section shall stand repealed on October 2, 2023. 56 Section 2. The Legislature finds that it is a public 57 necessity that an employee complaint alleging a private 58 employer’s violation of s. 318.00317, Florida Statutes, 59 regarding such employer’s COVID-19 vaccination policies or 60 practices, and all information relating to an investigation of 61 such complaint, held by the Department of Legal Affairs be made 62 confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1), Florida Statutes, and 63 s. 24(a), Article I of the State Constitution until the 64 investigation is completed or ceases to be active. The 65 Legislature also finds that it is a public necessity that an 66 employee’s medical information and information regarding an 67 employee’s religious beliefs remain confidential and exempt from 68 public records requirements regardless of the status of the 69 investigation. The disclosure of such information would allow 70 the public to gain knowledge of sensitive, personal information 71 that could be used to harass, embarrass, or humiliate a person 72 based on his or her medical information or religious beliefs. In 73 addition, release of such information could enable other persons 74 to gain knowledge of the employee’s vulnerabilities, and such 75 knowledge could result in the employee becoming a target of an 76 act of violence or other crimes. Furthermore, the public 77 disclosure of such information could discourage an employee from 78 filing a complaint if he or she knows that his or her personal 79 medical information or religious beliefs will be made available 80 pursuant to a public records request. Finally, if a 81 complainant’s information is made publicly available while an 82 investigation is active, that complainant could become the 83 subject of intimidation tactics and threats, thus hindering the 84 effective and efficient administration of the investigation by 85 the Department of Legal Affairs. Therefore, the Legislature 86 finds that it is a public necessity that an employee complaint 87 alleging a private employer’s violation of s. 381.00317, Florida 88 Statutes, regarding such employer’s COVID-19 vaccination 89 policies or practices, and all information relating to an 90 investigation of such complaint, held by the Department of Legal 91 Affairs, be made confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1), 92 Florida Statutes, and s. 24(a), Article I of the State 93 Constitution. 94 Section 3. This act shall take effect on the same date that 95 SB 2B or similar legislation takes effect, if such legislation 96 is adopted in the same legislative session and becomes a law.