Masks Mandate: What Employers Need to Know about the Recent Dallas County Order
April 20, 2020 by
In addition to handwashing and 6-feet social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19, Dallas County’s most recent Order adds a new face-covering requirement that took effect over the weekend. Anyone over the age of two1 must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth in most circumstances while in public. Judge Clay Jenkins originally ordered that anyone violating the Order could face fines or worse, but the Commissioners later dialed back the Order to eliminate such consequences.
Direct Impacts on Employers
- Employees must wear masks. All non-medical Essential Business employees must wear a face covering while performing their job duties on behalf of the Essential Business and, especially, in the presence of others.
- Employers are encouraged to provide face coverings to employees. To the “greatest extent possible,” employers should provide employees with a mask or face covering (requirements outlined below).
- Businesses may refuse to admit or serve non-compliant customers. According to the Order, any person going to an essential business or using public transportation, a taxi, or ride share must have a face covering. While the general public’s non-compliance will not result in arrest or monetary fines, a business owner or operator may refuse to admit or serve any customer not following the face-covering requirements.
Employers may and must enforce workplace safety policies, including protections against the spread of infectious disease, and may treat face mask requirements like any other safety policy, subject to customary disciplinary practices. Similarly, objections related to a disability or chronic health condition should be viewed as accommodation requests under the ADA, requiring, at a minimum, an open dialog with the employee regarding needs, limitations and potential accommodations.
Face Covering/Mask Requirements
Specifically, the Order requires some form of covering over a person’s nose and mouth, such as a homemade mask, scarf, bandana, or handkerchief. This, however, does not necessarily mean surgical masks or N-95 respirators, which are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders.
Heightened Requirements & Exceptions
The Order has heightened requirements for COVID-19 “Suspected Positives.” That is, those currently being tested, exhibiting symptoms, or living with someone in either of those categories must not leave their residence without a face covering. Lastly, the Order also carves out exceptions to the covering requirement for people riding in a personal vehicle, eating, or engaging in outdoor activities, as well as when wearing a face covering poses a greater risk to health, safety, or security.
Change is one thing that remains consistent in this COVID-19 era. As the COVID-19 landscape continues to evolve, Brown Fox attorneys can help businesses stay informed, adapt quickly, and maintain their agility throughout this tough time.