Lawsuit against Missouri House over lack of mask mandate moved to federal court


    White and pink buds on dogwood and tulip trees brighten the Missouri State Capitol grounds in Jefferson City (Getty Images).

    A lawsuit alleging an employee of the Missouri House was fired because he raised concerns about the lack of a mask mandate in the Capitol has been moved to federal court at the request of Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

    Tad Mayfield, who had worked in the Missouri House since 2011 before he was fired last year, filed a lawsuit earlier this month in Cole County Circuit Court. It centers on complaints he made to his supervisor — and later to legislative leaders in both the House and Senate — about the fact that there is no requirement that lawmakers, staff and visitors wear a mask while in the Capitol to combat the spread of COVID-19.

    Schmitt, whose office is defending the House, requested last week that the case be moved to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

    A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said the move was made because “the plaintiff alleged violations of federal law.”

    Mayfield alleges in his lawsuit that when he spoke out about the lack of a statehouse mask mandate that the defendants retaliated against him for “the exercise of rights protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.” 

    He also argues that the House violated state law protecting public employees from disciplinary action for reporting a “substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.”

    Mayfield wants the court to reinstate him to his former job, as well as award him damages for pain and suffering.