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What If an Employee Won’t Wear a Mask at Work?

What If An Employee Won’t Wear a Mask At Work?

Hi, I’m attorney L. Reed Bloodworth, managing partner of Bloodworth Law with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Winter Haven, Florida. 

At Bloodworth Law, our team handles employment law services for clients across Florida and can work with you remotely, via Zoom video conference, or in the office with the appropriate safety measures taken to protect you as we help you with your legal needs. 

I’m going to address an issue that may arise in your office relating to Covid. 

What If an Employee Won’t Wear a Mask at Work?

What if an employee refuses to wear a mask at work? The general rule is that if an employer has PPE — personal protective equipment — requirements in their facility designed for the protection either of their own workforce or for the public, it is perfectly acceptable to mandate all employees wear PPE. 

Don’t Wear PPE? Don’t Work 

Yes, employees can be made to wear PPE. For example, mask wearing. An employee who refuses to obey those standards can be disciplined or terminated for failing to obey those standards.

The most common exception to that is if an employee has a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask. Then the employer is required to reasonably accommodate that disability if it is possible to do so. 

An employee may have a face or neck injury or condition that prevents them from having anything touching their skin.

They may have PTSD or other psychological conditions that prevent them from wearing things strapped around their neck or head. 

Accommodation, Nothing Unreasonable

And those might be disabilities that might require an accommodation, but even where an accommodation is required, the employer is not required to do anything that would be considered unreasonable. Options:

• Face shield

• Other duties

• Stay away from people

So, the employer could for example, explore other options, perhaps a face shield depending on the circumstances. Or perhaps assigning that employee to duties that do not bring that employee in contact with other people or within six feet of other people, to mitigate the risk.

Reasonable Accommodation

But at the end of the day, if there’s no justification for a reasonable accommodation for a disability or making that accommodation, would not be possible or reasonable on behalf of the employer, then the employer can require mask wearing and can discipline or terminate employees who refuse do it.

As an employer, there are Florida rights to protect you and your company. The Employment Law Team at Bloodworth Law is ready to assist with these and any other issues you may face.

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