Employers Cannot Ban Mask Usage In California, Which Is The Chain’s Home State
By Dolores Quintana
On Tuesday, July 18, an email from In-N-Out Corporation banning masks for employees in their restaurants and support facilities was leaked on social media sites. The only exceptions were employees who had a note from a doctor stating that they had a health condition that required mask usage or if their job required masking.
Of the seven states where In-N-Out operates, these new masking rules apply to employees in five states, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. In the company’s home state, the chain was founded in Baldwin Park, California, and Oregon; there are laws that prevent companies from banning employee mask usage.
California’s law states, “Finally, no person can be prevented from wearing a mask as a condition of participation in an activity or entry into a venue or business (including schools or childcare), unless wearing a mask would pose a safety hazard.”
The email states that the new “mask guidelines” stress the importance of customer service and the ability to show our Associates’ smiles and other facial features while considering the health and well-being of all individuals.” The other statement is that “We believe this policy will also help to promote clear and effective communication both with our Customers and among our Associates.”
These guidelines would require employees with a medical note to wear a “company-provided N-95 mask.” Otherwise, employees with medical conditions would have to have a note specifying they can wear a different mask. The company does not believe that communication would be hampered or that there is a need to see the employee’s faces when they work in the areas of the company where masking and protective gear is required.
The memo does note that it is not necessary for the medical notes to give specifics about the medical condition or diagnosis but that it must give a clear reason for the exemption. They promise that the contents of such notes would be held in strict confidence according to medical privacy laws. In-N-Out press representatives have not responded to media outlets’ requests for comment, but their customer service representatives have verified the validity of the email memo. In 2021, In-N-Out clashed with the California government over enforcing restaurant vaccine mandates.