Texas: Once Again Open for Business

With Gov. Greg Abbott terminating the statewide mask mandate and allowing all businesses to operate at full capacity as long as COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low, Texas has become the latest state to officially reopen for business.  

But what does this mean for Texas companies and consumersLynn Pinker Hurst & Schwegmann appellate attorney David Coale offers the following guidance to business owners and customers. 

Rights of Business Owners Regarding Masks: 

(Business owners) have as much freedom as they have for everything else related to their business. A business or the government can insist on certain practices by those they do business with. Similar in many ways to Texas’ laws regarding firearms, a business can post a sign and prohibit the carrying of firearms for any reason it wants to. Also, a business could post a sign and say it won’t serve people wearing or not wearing masks.  Another important point, liability insurance companies can say they require certain mask-wearing policies be enacted by anyone they insure. If they do so, that would take away a lot of freedom for business owners to make their own policy. 

Same as any other violation of company policy, an employee can also be terminated for not wearing a mask if the employer requires itHowever, like any discharge, you can’t violate another law while you do it (age discrimination, disability discrimination, etc.) The governor’s order clearly tries to get the state out of the way – whatever rights you have to tell an employee what to wear in a particular business, that’s what you have. Could an employee be terminated for wearing a mask? That’s a harder question. An at-will employee can be fired for any reason. But, so long as there are federal guidelines out there that say mask wearing promotes safety, there’s a risk of violating federal safe-workplace laws. 

Rights of Consumers Regarding Masks: 

They can take their business somewhere else – vote with their feet – if they don’t like the rules of a business. But if a business asks you to leave because you don’t have a mask, you must leave or you could be arrested for trespass. Same as any other violation of a company’s rules when you are on their property. 

For more information, please contact Sophia Reza at 800-559-4534 or sophia@androvett.com

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