Rembaum’s Association Roundup
Vaccination ID’s: To Require or Not to Require, That Is The Question
Florida’s community association board members are wrestling with many amenity re-opening decisions these days. One such decision is whether or not to open the community clubhouse including the card rooms, bingo, and even off-Broadway like shows. As a part of that decision making process, board members may be considering requiring proof of vaccination as a pre-requisite to such use.
While ultimately a decision within the business judgment of the board, requiring proof of vaccination prior to allowing use of an association amenity is not recommended. Do you remember the ol’ adage, “no good deed goes unpunished?” Well, requiring proof of vaccination from the members prior to allowing use of the clubhouse, no matter how well intended, could likely lead to significant and costly problems for the association who fails to heed the warnings set out in this article.
When acquiring medical information of members, the board’s duty, pursuant to relevant law, is to keep such acquired medical information confidential. Requiring proof of vaccination to use amenities will no doubt lead to a significant breach of that duty.
Another reason not to require proof of vaccination is that doing so will lead to creating two classes of members. The vaccinated members who are allowed to use the amenities and the unvaccinated members who are not allowed to use the amenities. Yet, all members pay for access to use the amenities in proportion to their assessment obligation. Therefore, this practice could expose the association to adverse litigation from the upset unvaccinated members.
If the aforementioned two reasons are not sufficient to dissuade you, then consider this: A member may choose not be vaccinated for religious reasons. In this situation, by requiring proof of vaccination the association will be exposing itself to a claim of religious discrimination.
If the association opens an amenity, then the amenity should be available to all members for use without consideration of vaccination. If that is a concern, then perhaps waiting a short while longer to open the clubhouse or other amenity makes the most sense. Remember, too, that when you do re-open to adhere to CDC protocols as may be appropriate for your community such as mask wearing, social distancing, and sanitizing. As a part of the re-opening procedure, please consult with your association’s attorney regarding the do’s and don’ts.
Community Associations Protected by Limited Liability Law
[As presented by Community Associations Institute Florida Legislative Alliance]
On Monday, March 29 Governor DeSantis signed SB 72 into law granting liability protection to businesses and entities, such as religious institutions and community associations, from lawsuits related to COVID-19 exposure if they made a good faith effort to follow all federal, state, and local public health guidelines.
The protections provided in this bill are important to CAI Florida Legislative Alliance (CAI-FLA). CAI is honored to have been a part of the Florida RESET task force, a coalition of organizations dedicated to reopening Florida safely that assisted in drafting and passing this legislation. In August of 2020, this working group announced their three priority legislative proposals, each of which were included in SB 72 which has been signed into law.
Specifically, the RESET Task Force’s draft legislation authorized limited cause of action for COVID-19 related claims with:
- a heightened culpability standard: to establish liability, the defendant must have acted with gross negligence or intentional conduct;
- a heightened evidentiary standard: clear and convincing evidence is required to establish liability, rather than a mere preponderance of the evidence; and
- a shortened statute of limitations.
Jeffrey Rembaum’s, Esq. of Kaye, Bender, Rembaum attorneys at law, legal practice consists of representation of condominium, homeowner, commercial and mobile home park associations, as well as exclusive country club communities and the developers who build them. Mr. Rembaum is a Certified Specialist in Condominium and Planned Development Law. He is the creator of ‘Rembaum’s Association Roundup’, an e-magazine devoted to the education of community association board members, managers, developers and anyone involved with Florida’s community associations. His column appears monthly in the Florida Community Association Journal. Every year since 2012, Mr. Rembaum has been selected to the Florida Super Lawyers list and was also named Legal Elite by Florida Trends Magazine. He can be reached at 561-241-4462.