In-N-Out Bans Employees In 5 States From Wearing COVID-19 Masks

A worker wears a face covering while taking orders. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

OAN’s Shawntel Smith-Hill                                       
1:17 PM – Tuesday, July 18, 2023

In a leaked memo, the popular California-based burger chain In-N-Out has banned some employees from wearing masks unless they present a medical note from a doctor, with the company’s reasoning stating that it prevents customers from “seeing their smiles.”

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In the leaked memo that went viral on Twitter, the company said it had introduced new measures in an effort to show off the “facial features” of workers.

The new employee guidelines will reportedly go into effect as of August 14th and will apply to In-N-Out locations based in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Texas.

The company’s California locations, which make up the majority of their establishments, will allow employees to continue wearing masks, however, they must wear an N-95 mask provided by the company, unless a medical note allows them to use a different mask. The new policies were outlined in a set of emails sent to employees last week.

“We are introducing new mask guidelines that emphasize the importance of customer service and the ability to show our Associates’ smiles and other facial features while considering the health and well-being of all individuals,” the announcement said. “We believe this policy will also help promote clear and effective communication both with our Customers and among our Associates.”

As stated in the memo, failure to comply with the new guidelines could lead to employee termination.

Despite the company’s claims that the guidelines are designed to improve interactions between employees and customers, In-N-Out has recently faced criticism for its stance on COVID-19 restrictions.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a San Francisco In-N-Out establishment was ordered by officials to close in October 2021 after it failed to comply with a requirement that ordered all chains to validate the vaccination cards of indoor customers.

During these incidents, In-N-Out’s Chief Legal and Business Officer Arnie Wensinger said in a statement, “It is unreasonable, invasive, and unsafe to force our restaurant associates to segregate customers into those who may be served and those who may not, whether based on the documentation they carry or any other reason.”

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