Can Your Employer Require You to Wear a Face Mask?

There has been a lot of controversy in the last several weeks about mask-wearing; and while we don’t want to get political, we do want to make sure that you are aware of your rights and limitations under the law when it comes to this health mandate. To understand how the law applies, we have to look at local mandates as well as employment law and workers’ rights.

Can my boss force me to wear a mask?

The short answer? More than likely your boss can force you to wear a mask, but you may be able to qualify for an exemption under the ADA.

How can my employer require that I wear a mask?

Wearing a mask for employment is no different than being required to wear a uniform shirt or other personal protective equipment (PPE). If your employer feels that wearing a mask is important for the health and safety of their workers, they can require you to wear the mask. 

Am I under a mask order? When the mask order expires, will I still have to wear a mask at work?

Currently, Collier County is under a mask order until September 3, while the city and state have failed to mandate masks. As long as the county is under the mask order, you will be required to wear a mask whenever social distancing is not possible, including at your place of employment.

Even when the mask order expires, your employer can still require you to wear a mask if they feel that it is necessary to protect the health of their employees.

What exceptions are there?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employees may request reasonable accommodations from their employers to meet their health needs or limitations. If you have a medical condition that doesn’t allow for mask-wearing, you may be exempt from having to wear a mask, both from an ordinance and an employment standpoint. 

On the other hand, if your employer feels that your lack of a mask puts their other employees at too much risk, they can claim that the accommodation is not reasonable and still require you to either wear a mask or remain at home. If they are reasonably able, they may need to set you up for remote work for the duration of the pandemic.

If you have any questions about whether or not your employer can make you wear a mask during this time, contact our office to protect your employment rights.