As Texas has allowed restaurants to reopen with limited capacity amid the coronavirus pandemic, the state has asked restaurants to consider requiring employees to wear masks in order to prevent the spread of the disease. In fact, Dallas County requires masks for anyone in public under a "Safer At Home" order.
However, a Los Angeles-based restaurant group has told employees at its Dallas locations that not only should they not wear masks on the job, but they could lose out on future shifts if they choose to do so.
The Dallas Morning News, CBS News and KXAS-TV all report that employees at the Hillstone Group's five area restaurants have been told that they are forbidden from wearing any personal protective equipment on the job. Those that chose not to return to work under those conditions were told they would not be scheduled for further shifts.
Many employees, all of whom spoke to the media outlets under the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs, said the rule made them feel unsafe. Also, employees felt pressured to accept the terms because they would not be terminated for not returning to work — preventing them from filing from unemployment.
On the website for its Texas restaurants, the Hillstone Group wrote that "current orders do not require our staff or guests to wear face masks. If you are concerned about your safety in this respect, we hope you will join us at a later date."
While the state only suggests employees wear masks, individual counties — like Dallas County — require them for anyone in public.
Hillstone has made changes to its Texas operations amid the pandemic. Restaurants are currently limiting seating per table to two customers and is encouraging hygiene and handwashing among its patrons.
The Hillstone Group operates 45 upscale restaurants with various names in 12 states. The group has strict dining guidelines that prevent customers from wearing casual clothes like hats and flip flops and discourages large groups with children.