In the age of Coronavirus, there are people on both sides of the fence when it comes to wearing a face mask. Irrespective of whether you think face masks are necessary to limit the spread of the virus, many people are asking, if they are actually working and not furloughed or laid off, if it is legal for an employer to require employees to wear masks. The short answer is, “yes.” Below is a brief explanation as to why.
According to the Occupational Safety Health Administration (“OSHA”):
“Employers may choose to ensure that cloth face coverings are worn as a feasible means of abatement in a control plan designed to address hazards from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Employers may choose to use cloth face coverings as a means of source control, such as because of transmission risk that cannot be controlled through engineering or administrative controls, including social distancing.”
If an employer requires you to wear a cloth face mask at work, it does not have to provide one. If, however, an employer requires you to wear personal protective equipment (“PPE”) then OSHA states that the employer must furnish this equipment. Moreover, PPE has general safety standards that must be met that are set by the American National Standards Institute (”ANSI”) or, depending on the industry, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”).
Some people may wonder whether being forced to wear a mask is a violation of their rights under the United States Constitution. Again, the short answer is “no.” When it comes to the safety of its citizens, governments have the power to regulate. When it comes to a pandemic, state governments, not the federal government, are the key players in issuing regulations and mandates. This is because under both the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as almost 200 years of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, state governments have primary authority over issues that are not specifically under the federal government. This includes preventing the spread of dangerous diseases, such as Coronavirus, within their jurisdictions. So, a state government can set quarantines, business restrictions, and mask mandates to take public health emergency actions. The federal government, on the other hand, has quarantine powers but they are limited to what is under its control such as airspace, ports of entry, and other federally run areas.
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Bottom line: Not only can an employer require you to wear a cloth face mask but they do not have to provide one for you.If you or someone you know has suffered an injury due to the fault of another in Nevada, contact the experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at H&P Law Our attorneys are familiar with applicable law and how to position your case for the best possible result. Contact us today for your initial case evaluation.