According to leaked internal company emails circulating on social media, In-N-Out, the popular burger chain, will enforce a new policy in five states, prohibiting employees from wearing masks unless they have a valid doctor’s note, Your Content has learned.
The memo, which outlines the guidelines for workers in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and Utah, emphasizes the importance of customer service and the desire to showcase employees’ facial expressions while considering everyone’s well-being.
Effective from August 14, the policy applies to all In-N-Out employees in the specified states, with exceptions for job-related tasks that necessitate the use of masks or protective gear, such as painting.
Failure to comply with the policy may result in disciplinary action, including termination, as stated in the memo. Notably, California and Oregon have existing laws that prevent employers from banning masks.
This isn’t the first instance where In-N-Out, headquartered in California, has clashed with health experts regarding safety measures. In October 2021, multiple California locations faced fines and temporary closures due to the company’s refusal to enforce COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
A customer service representative from In-N-Out has confirmed the authenticity of the new mask guidelines when questioned. However, the company’s press contact did not respond to immediate requests for comment.
The implementation of these guidelines has garnered criticism from public health officials, including infectious disease specialist Dr. Judy Stone. Dr. Stone voiced concerns about the burden of obtaining a doctor’s note in terms of time and expense, considering that not everyone has easy access to a primary care physician.
She also suggested that requiring proof of disability could potentially violate the Americans with Disability Act, depending on the interpretation of masking as an accommodation request. Dr. Stone referenced statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which highlight that 6 in 10 adults have chronic diseases, increasing their susceptibility to severe COVID-19.
Separate leaked memos reveal that California and Oregon In-N-Out employees will also face new mask guidelines starting August 14. However, unlike the other states, employees in California and Oregon will still have the option to wear masks in stores.
The memo stipulates that these masks must be company-provided N-95 masks, and those wishing to wear alternative masks must provide a valid medical note.
Both memos acknowledge that local health regulations will take precedence, and the company will continuously assess accommodations based on these guidelines, according to U.S. News.