In-N-Out Forbids Employees Outside California and Oregon From Wearing Masks
In-N-Out announced in July 2023 that employees in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and Utah would not be allowed to wear protective face masks at work. Employees were exempted unless they could prove a valid medical exemption or needed to wear protective gear for job duties, such as painting.
In-N-Out workers in California and Oregon also have new mask guidelines, but would still be able to choose to wear a mask in stores. Employees could face disciplinary action, including termination, if they do not comply. In-In-Out believes that face masks creates a barrier to customer relations.
Unreasonable Restriction of Individual Rights
In-N-Out’s stance on Covid restrictions is hypocritical. In October 2021, San Francisco officials ordered the closure of an In-N-Out within the city after it failed to comply with requirements that all restaurants check vaccine cards of indoor diners. In-N-Out later closed five of its locations in Contra Costa County rather than comply with the Covid rules. In-N-Out defended its refusal on the grounds that the restriction was “unreasonable, invasive, and unsafe to force our restaurant associates to segregate customers…”
Two years later, the burger chain now makes an unreasonable, invasive, and unsafe restriction regarding employee health. Face masks have rarely been a burden. They are cheap, easy to remove, and were only required in public indoor venues. They cut down on most respiratory diseases, in addition to Covid-19. In the restaurant industry, face masks helps keep unwanted spit or other bodily fluids out of food.
There are some studies that face masks have inhibited young children from learning human facial cues due to face masks. However, most people do not have a significant relation with an In-N-Out employee. At most, an adult will spend a couple of minutes speaking with a cashier to order and pick up their food. The potential benefits gained from face masks generally outweigh any potential risks.
Even if the benefits and risks of face masks are debatable the decision to wear a face mask should be left to each individual employee. An employee will not always be interacting with customers. Customers will generally never see the employees in the kitchen who cook the food. There is no reason why In-N-Out should apply a universal policy on their employees regarding their personal health just a few years after a world-changing pandemic.
Do I Need an Employment Lawyer?
If you believe that your employer has violated your legal rights as a worker, you should hire a local employment lawyer for further assistance. A skilled employment law attorney can help protect your interests and defend your rights under the law. Your attorney can also assist you in filing a lawsuit against an employer and/or colleague and in recovering damages for any losses that you suffered.
Alternatively, if you are an employer who is being used by a worker, you should hire an employment law attorney immediately to represent you in court.