In-N-Out recently imposed a mask ban for workers on the job — but California law for COVID-19 workplace rules mean that In-N-Out workers in the state still have the right to decide for themselves whether to wear face coverings until at least February 2025.
The burger chain said in a memo earlier this month that it wants to "emphasize the importance of customer service” and “the ability to show our Associates' smiles and other facial features,” as KTVU reported.
In-N-Out’s memo reportedly lays out different rules for different states, though. The ban masks has been limited to restaurants in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and Utah, where it has a total of 116 locations. (Although employees are allowed to wear masks if they present a medical note that "clearly states the reason for the exemption.")
But in California and Oregon, the choice to mask will have to be left up to each individual worker. California in particular has 70% of all of its operating restaurants.
This isn’t the first time In-N-Out has faced controversy about its workplace regulations around the COVID pandemic. It refused to enforce California’s local indoor vaccine mandates in the fall of 2021, and when locations in SF and the East Bay refused to check customers' vaccination records, they were temporarily shut down.
But in 2023, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health in charge of workplace safety updated its COVID-19 requirements which include how, "Employers must allow employees to wear face coverings if they voluntarily choose to do so, unless it would create a safety hazard."
They’re in effect until February 3, 2025, and could still be extended.
Image via Unsplash/Qi Li.