Masks are banned at In-N-Out after a burger chain banned its employees in Utah and four other states from wearing masks

Both California and Oregon have laws preventing employers from banning masks.

(Adam Lau | AP Stock Photo) In-N-Out Burger signs fill the California skyline on Tuesday, June 8, 2010. In-N-Out bans employees in five states from wearing masks unless they have a medical certificate. This is according to internal company emails leaked on social media last week.

New York • According to internal company emails leaked on social media, burger chain In-N-Out will ban employees in five states from wearing masks unless they have a medical certificate.

In the memo announcing new policies for workers in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Utah, the fast-food chain noted “the importance of customer service and the ability to show our employees’ smiles and other facial features while taking into account the health and well-being of all individuals.”

The policy, which goes into effect August 14, applies to all In-N-Out employees in those states, except for those employed for work assignments that require it, such as: B. Wearing paint, masks or other protective equipment. Employees could face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal if they fail to comply, the memo said.

Both California and Oregon have laws preventing employers from banning masks.

It’s not the first time the California-based chain has clashed with health experts over safety measures first put in place as the number of deaths from COVID-19 skyrocketed during the pandemic. In October 2021, several In-N-Out locations in California faced fines or were temporarily closed because the burger chain refused to enforce COVID-19 vaccination regulations.

A customer service representative for the company confirmed the correctness of the new mask guidelines to The Associated Press on Wednesday. In-N-Out’s press contact did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The new guidelines have met opposition from public health officials such as infectious disease specialist Dr. Judy Stone.

“Requesting a medical certificate is also a time and financial burden. “Many people don’t have a family doctor or one who is readily available,” Stone wrote in a column for Forbes this week. “And requiring proof of disability could be considered a violation of the Americans with Disability Act, depending on how one interprets the masking as a placement request.”

Stone also pointed to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that say 6 in 10 adults have a chronic illness, increasing their risk of severe COVID-19.

In-N-Out workers in California and Oregon are also subject to new mask guidelines, set to take effect August 14, according to a separate, leaked company memo. But unlike the other states, employees in California and Oregon can still choose to wear a mask in stores.

Those masks must be a company-supplied N-95 mask, the memo said – adding that employees wishing to wear other masks must provide “a valid medical certificate.”

Both memos note that the policies are subject to local health regulations and that the company will continue to evaluate properties against its policies.

Justin Scaccy

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