The Montana Department of Labor recently released a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) concerning HB 702 (2021), which as we previously reported, prohibits employers and businesses from discriminating against individuals on the basis of vaccination status. The FAQs cover many topics and include the following key interpretations concerning the new law:
Applicability to other kinds of vaccines: HB 702’s prohibition on discrimination based on vaccination status extends to all vaccines, not just the ones for COVID-19 (coronavirus). For example, employers can’t mandate a vaccine for the flu as a condition of employment.
Vaccine inquiries: Nothing in the law prevents employers from asking about vaccination status, but workers aren’t required to respond and can’t be discriminated against due to their response or non-response.
Vaccine incentives: Employers can offer incentives to workers to voluntarily become vaccinated as long as the incentives aren’t so substantial as to be coercive. On this topic, the FAQs refer to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidance (see K.17), and include examples of small gifts, such as a water bottle or gift card worth less than $25, as generally not coercive.
Masking: Employers can require all workers to wear masks, but are prohibited from requiring only individuals who are unvaccinated or who refuse to provide information on vaccination status to wear masks.
Tips: The content above covers the law and FAQs for most private employers in Montana, but be aware there are different rules and guidance for entities such as health care facilities and schools. If you have questions about the FAQs or complying with the law, contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney.