What to Do If Employees Refuse to Wear a Mask

by Evil HR Lady on July 29, 2020

“I want to come back to work, but I won’t wear a mask.” Some of you may have heard this from your employees. Your gut reaction may be, “well, then, you’re fired,” but you can’t do that immediately. If an employee makes such a statement, you first need to ask why. Here’s what you need to know.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Still Applies

You may have seen memes or tweets about asking why violating HIPAA or the 4th amendment. 

None of this is true. HIPAA relates only to health care providers and insurance companies–and most companies are not subject to it. The 4th amendment is related to unreasonable searches and seizures. I’m not quite sure what the logic is here, but you may have heard it. What does apply is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

To keep reading, click here: What to Do If Employees Refuse to Wear a Mask

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Hogg July 29, 2020 at 4:56 pm

Thank you for this article.

I don’t hire, I don’t manage, and I don’t own. Up until July 1 when I retired, I was a regular, normal, everyday employee.

But it simply rubs me the wrong way, for several reasons, why in this case employees/workers feel entitled to not wear masks because “I don’t choose to.”

And in general, in the broader area of life, the mindset by so many of I can do whatever I want and you have to go along with it just because it suits me, got really old a long time ago.

Thanks again for this article and advice. Much appreciated.

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Kathy July 30, 2020 at 2:06 am

People seem to think that they should be free to skip the mask because it’s their right to run whatever risks they choose to run with their own health. It’s really unintuitive that they should wear a mask to prevent them from spreading to others a disease that they’re sure they don’t have because they feel just fine. If I were in HR trying to enforce masks, I’d work on explaining the concept of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic carriers very thoroughly.

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Millennial Perspective July 30, 2020 at 10:37 pm

I was chatting with someone on linkedIn who was telling me, a hospital worker, that I was wrong about HIPPA. They didnt even know what PHI was.

At this point I think anyonr who is anti mask in the US is just willfully ignorant.

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MariaRose July 29, 2020 at 8:32 pm

Excellent suggestions provided the employee uses a doctor that actually has diagnosed the health conditions needed to qualify under the ADA, but there are those unscrupulous places that will sign a form just to get the ability to collect a fee from the health insurance company. I believe in most cases, a designated medical form from HR will help differentiate any problems. Also, if this person cannot or will not do this evaluation, then the company has the right to eliminate the job position for that employee.

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Desiree Arcy August 1, 2020 at 7:23 am

Even with a diagnosed health condition, the ADA does not grant any employee the right to *dictate* whatever accommodations they desire; rather, employers are required to initiate an “interactive process” of negotiating reasonable accommodations.

Not wearing necessary safety equipment is under no circumstances a reasonable accommodation. Negotiating alternative safety equipment would be the very limit.

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