Oyster Bay, NY asked in Employment Discrimination, Employment Law, Civil Rights and Health Care Law for New York

Q: Can an employer require employees who return to work following a COVID-19 Diagnosis to wear a mask?

I am a Civil Service Employee in NYS, which is a represented by a Union. The Chief Administrative officer has stated that once the Dept of Health Clears an employee to return to work after a COVID-19 Infection, that the employee must wear a mask for 7 additional days. The act of being forced to wear a mask after being cleared by a medical professional would create an uncomfortable perception in the workplace that you are infected with a communicable disease which would, with a level of certainty lead to discrimination. In addition, that in order to enforce compliance with this order- it would be necessary for protected employee health information to be widely disseminated through the agencies rank structure to many supervisory levels. Employees with no history of COVID-19 are NOT required to wear a mask. Is this situation permissible?

1 Lawyer Answer
V. Jonas Urba
V. Jonas Urba
  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • New York, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Everyone should be wearing masks with or without a diagnosis. Medical experts recommend that.

I had an emergency need to venture out today. The people with masks are the ones we respect most because they respect us and our well being.

You should be held in high esteem and continue wearing a mask. It would probably be worse to be fired and receive only unemployment would it not? Can any medical expert anywhere guarantee that you only need 7 extra days? Wear one into the foreseeable future assuming you work among intelligent coworkers.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.