Two bills before the North Dakota House of Representatives inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic were recently defeated. House Bill 1204 proposed an exemption to mask mandates in the workplace for medical or religious reasons, unless the employer determined wearing a mask was essential due to the nature of the employment setting. Although the bill failed by a vote of 19-74, North Dakota employers should remember that employees may require reasonable accommodations for wearing masks for disability or religious reasons under the ADA and Title VII.
House Bill 1262 proposed additional protections to whistleblowers in North Dakota. The bill prohibited employers from disciplining or penalizing employees, who report violations of health or safety rules or significant workplace threats to health or safety related to a public health emergency. The bill also prohibited employers from retaliating against employees, who voluntarily wear personal protective gear of greater protection than that provided by their employer (aside from peace officers and firefighters). The bill failed by a vote of 13-78.