A Texas diner threatening a $50 no-mask surcharge is your reminder not to relax face mask rules at work

During the last The Employer Handbook Zoom Office Hour on Friday, which you can view here on The Employer Handbook YouTube channel, we discussed how employers could expect OSHA to be a lot more aggressive about COVID-19 workplace inspections in 2021.

Do not sleep on OSHA compliance.

Maybe you operate in one of those states, like Texas, where the state has relaxed the rules generally on wearing facemasks.

That’s the state’s prerogative. However, under federal law — specifically, OSHA’s general duty clause — each business must “furnish to each of [its] employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to [its] employees.”

With the number of complaints and referrals creeping up each month, don’t relax COVID-19 safety protocols now. Best practices include social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting high-touch areas frequently, making sure that employees have access to soap and water and sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, keeping/sending employees home sick, and face masks.

You should be providing facemasks to your employees and customers — many states require it — or not letting anyone do business with you who refuses to wear one.

Or, you can take it up a notch, as a Texas restaurant did.

CW33 in reports here that a Denton diner “rolled out a $50 surcharge if they have to explain why masks are mandatory in the restaurant and $75 if they have to listen to you disagree.”

Sarah Blaskovich at the Dallas Morning News had more on the story here. One of the restaurant owners told her, “I just can’t afford to get the virus. We’d have to shut our business down.” Additionally, because more of the customers are older, “We want to stay safe for them,” he said. “For our customers, our employees, it’s the right thing to do.”

With my readers, I’m probably preaching to the choir. Keep masking up for the sake of your workers, your customers, and to avoid any OSHA problems too.

Better yet, if your employees can work remotely, have them do so.

But, if you really want to be on your “A” game…

On Friday, 3/26, we’re back with The Employer Handbook Zoom Office Hour.

12:00-1:00 PM ET
Join me and my special guests, Simone McCormick and Amy Epstein Gluck, to discuss all the privacy implications of vaccinations, health screening, and everything else COVID-related. Simone is not only a fantastic management-side employment lawyer but also a data protection/breach expert. Amy serves as employment counsel to both outside businesses and our law firm, FisherBroyles. You won’t want to miss this.

1:15-2:15 PM ET
It’s COBRA time. And who better to answer all of your American Rescue Plan Act COBRA-related questions than employee benefits superstars Mark Mathis and Bob Ellerbrock. Mark and Bob have over fifty years of employee-benefits experience between them. Good luck stumping them with your questions.

Click here to register for both sessions.

If you have hypothetical questions for a friend that our special guests can answer without providing any legal advice or creating any attorney-client privilege, email them to me.




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