Are Businesses in Texas Allowed to Require Masks?

Learn about mask requirements in Texas businesses. Find out if employers can continue to demand masks from their employees and customers.

Are Businesses in Texas Allowed to Require Masks?

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has issued guidance for schools to comply with the state mask order. The governor's state order does not require Texans to wear a mask at polling places. However, businesses are still allowed to demand masks from their employees and customers. Just this morning, The Wall Street Journal reported that some of the largest retail, theater, hotel and restaurant chains in the United States operating in Texas announced that they will continue to require the use of masks.

It may be more difficult for companies to justify mask requirements to customers in the absence of government bans, but many companies will still require masks. Bell County Judge David Blackburn provided guidance for businesses and local governments. The governor also asked state hospitals to provide daily reports on their capacity to the Texas Department of State Health Services to send them to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On March 2, while waiting in line in the parking lot at NRG Stadium in Houston to receive my first COVID injection, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that, starting March 10, there would no longer be COVID-19 operating limits for Texas businesses. A company cannot deny employment or services or discriminate against any person on the basis that the person chooses to wear a face covering designed to inhibit the transmission of COVID-19, but that is not designed to otherwise conceal the person's identity. If you would like more information, contact your Littler attorney for additional resources that summarize these requirements at both the state and local levels. Masks are no longer required for unvaccinated individuals in public settings and closed businesses, but all people, regardless of vaccination status, are strongly encouraged to wear masks in closed public settings.

OSHA is also likely to issue a temporary emergency rule in the next two weeks that requires the use of masks in certain contexts. Private companies still have the right to demand masks from customers and employees, but most state and local government entities can no longer do so. Business owners will be able to decide for themselves whether to serve customers who don't wear masks. The requirement to wear a mask in indoor public places has been eliminated for most venues and businesses. Masks continue to be necessary for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in specific high-risk settings, including healthcare settings. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Travis and Austin County officials in March for imposing a local mask mandate despite Abbott's order banning such requirements at the time.

The State of Virginia and the Department of Labor and Industry will not allow or tolerate unlawful discrimination based on whether or not to wear masks, and individuals should not be fired or fired for not wearing a mask, subject to federal requirements. We've received a lot of questions from people wondering why some businesses still require masks if the statewide mask mandate ends. Companies have the right to demand stricter mask policies, but they are not allowed to restrict the use of masks by their staff, customers or visitors.

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