Montana: Wrongful Discharge, Vaccine Passports, and Tip Pooling Updates


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Montana recently amended several employment laws, including the Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act, Human Rights Act, and Wage Protection Act. Key changes are highlighted below.

HB 254 | Wrongful Discharge from Employment Act (effective April 1, 2021)

  • New Hire Probationary Period. The new hire probationary period was extended from six to 12 months after hire, with an option to extend the initial period another six months. Employers may also set their own policy.
  • Termination for “Good Cause.” Termination for “good cause” will now include “the employee’s material or repeated violation of an express provision of the employer’s written policies” and “other legitimate business reason reasons determined by the employer while exercising the employer’s reasonable business judgment.”
  • Violation of the Act. Wrongful discharge occurs when employers materially violate their own written policies, which deprive employees of a “fair and reasonable opportunity” to stay employed with the employer.
  • Notice of Appeal Procedures. The time to provide terminated employees with notice of any employer internal appeal procedures was extended from seven to 14 days.

HB 702 | Human Rights Act (effective May 7, 2021)

  • Employers cannot discriminate against or refuse to hire anyone based on their vaccination status, excluding vaccination requirements that apply to schools and daycare facilities.
  • Employers may still recommend that employees get vaccinated.
  • Individuals cannot be required to get vaccines that are permitted under emergency use authorization or undergoing safety trials.
  • There are additional specific rules and exemptions for healthcare facilities.

SB 190 | Wage Protection Act (effective May 3, 2021)

  • Employers can impose tip pooling arrangements, which may include employees involved in providing customer service or food preparation (e.g., servers, hosts, bussers, dishwashers, cooks, or other employees).
  • Employers must notify employees of mandatory tip pooling arrangements and are not permitted to participate in them.
  • Tips received under a mandatory tip pooling arrangement must be paid no later than the regular payday for the workweek in which the tips were collected.
  • Employers must retain tip pooling and payroll records.

Action Items

  1. Have employee handbooks updated.
  2. Update vaccination policies, if applicable.
  3. Update tip pooling policies and procedures.
  4. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

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