Noem bill would allow employees to sue over COVID vaccination mandates

The proposed legislation would require employers to grant exemptions for medical or religious reasons as well for natural immunity.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is proposing a bill that would allow employees to sue employers if they are denied an exemption from a COVID-19 vaccination.

The governor unveiled legislation Thursday that would require employers to grant the exemptions for medical or religious reasons.

Employers also would be required to recognize natural immunity as an exemption. The employee must provide proof of a positive serum antibody test from a qualified laboratory within 180 days of requesting the exemption. The employer could require another test to renew the exemption, according to the bill.

"The COVID vaccination should be a choice, and we should reject the efforts that we are seeing in other parts of the country to divide us into two classes: vaccinated and unvaccinated," Noem said in a statement. "Unvaccinated Americans are still Americans."

The bill would exempt the National Guard. The Pentagon is requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for all National Guard members.

Employees who are "injured by a violation of this Act may apply for injunctive and declaratory relief, without bond, to restrain their employer from violating this Act," according to the bill.

Noem signed an executive order last year exempting state employees from President Joe Biden's vaccination mandate for employers with more than 100 employees.