Wearing a mask will soon be a punishable action for some In-N-Out employees.
In a leaked internal memo, the burger chain said it would soon bar employees in five states from wearing masks unless they have a doctor's note. Those who do have to wear a mask for medical reasons must wear a company-provided N95 mask.
The rule takes effect Aug. 14 in five of the seven states in which the company operates: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Utah. California and Oregon employees are exempt from the company requirement because of state laws.
The company memo states the new guidelines are being put in place to "emphasize 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."
"Our goal is to continue to provide safe and customer-centric Store and Support environments that balance two things that In-N-Out is known for — exceptional customer service and unmatched standards for health, safety, and quality," the memo states.
Employees who don't follow the new guidelines could face disciplinary action, including being fired, according to the memo.
In-N-Out has previously clashed with health officials over safety measures. In Oct. 2021, some California locations were fined and some temporarily closed due to not enforcing state vaccination requirements.
In a tweet Wednesday, infectious disease specialist Dr. Judy Stone said the new mask guidelines are again violating CDC COVID recommendations. Writing for Forbes, she said requiring a doctor's note to wear a mask would burden employees' time and money and that "requiring proof of a disability might be considered a violation of the Americans with Disability Act."
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