In-N-Out Burger bans most workers in Arizona, 4 other states from wearing face masks
Jul 19, 2023, 12:14 PM
(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
PHOENIX – Fast food chain In-N-Out Burger is banning most of its workers in Arizona and four other states from wearing face masks.
The policy includes exemptions for employees with notes from their doctors or for jobs that require protective gear, like painting.
The guidelines apply to restaurants in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Utah. In-N-Out also operates in California and Oregon, but those states have laws preventing businesses from banning masks.
The policy was first publicized through internal company emails leaked on social media. A company customer service representative confirmed the accuracy of the new mask guidelines with The Associated Press on Wednesday.
What does In-N-Out Burger mask policy say?
A leaked memo to employees pointed to “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.”
Employees who don’t comply could face disciplinary action, including termination.
In-N-Out workers in California and Oregon also have new mask guidelines set to go into effect Aug. 14, according to a separate leaked company memo. But in contrast to the other states, California and Oregon employees will still be able to choose to wear a mask.
Those masks must be a company-provided N-95 mask, the memo says — adding that employees who wish to wear different masks must provide “a valid medical note.”
Both memos note that policies are subject to local health regulations, and that the company will continue to evaluate accommodation for its guidelines.
Health official criticizes In-N-Out Burger mask ban
The new guidelines are facing pushback from public health officials like infectious disease specialist Dr. Judy Stone.
“Requiring a doctor’s note is also a burden in terms of time and money. Many people don’t have a primary care physician or one who is readily available,” Stone wrote in a column for Forbes this week. “And requiring proof of a disability might be considered a violation of the Americans with Disability Act, depending on how one interprets masking as a request for accommodation.”
Stone also pointed to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — which notes that 6 in 10 adults have a chronic disease, increasing their risk for severe COVID-19.
It is not the first time that the chain, based in California, has clashed with health experts over safety measures that were first put into place as 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 rules.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.