In New York, many lockdown restrictions have been lifted, allowing businesses to reopen. One of the conditions, however, is that employees are required to wear face masks at work if social distancing among co-workers is not possible. But what if an employee returns to work but refuses to wear a face covering? Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer,” says wearing a mask should be part of a worker’s routine when they go back to work.
“This isn’t an employee rights issue, it’s a health and safety issue,” Mr. Sack says. “Employees must prove that they cannot wear a mask because of religious reasons or medical issues that may affect their breathing. If someone returns to the workplace and refuses to wear a mask without a legal reason, then the worker may potentially face termination.”
Mr. Sack says he understands that companies want to keep their employees safe, but he added that workers who do not wear protective face coverings due to religious or health protections should not be subject to harassment by supervisors or other employees. “Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, co-workers or managers cannot single out an employee based on their religious beliefs or existing medical conditions,” he says. “If you believe you are facing harassment or discrimination as a result, consult an employment law attorney immediately.”