Asked in Employment Discrimination for California

Q: Is it legal for an employer to tell other employees they don't have to wear masks but I have to or be threatened

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
Neil Pedersen
Neil Pedersen
  • Employment Law Lawyer
  • Westminster, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, employees are considered to be employed at will unless you have an agreement to the contrary about that status with the employer. The employer of an at will employee can change the terms and conditions of employment for any employee at any time and for any reason or even no reason at all. Additionally, the employer can discipline and even terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all. So, the response to your question is yes, in most circumstances the employer can make you wear a mask even if the other employees are not required to do so.

That said, if you can establish that the reason for the difference in treatment is your membership in a protected class of people or because you engaged in some form of legally protected conduct, then you might have a technical legal claim. However, being required to wear a mask will likely not give you sufficient damages to support a lawsuit. If you think you can prove unlawful discrimination and you want to consider a lawsuit, you should locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore your facts and determine your options. I would suggest you look either on this site, or go to, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.

Most employment attorneys who practice this area of law offer a free or low cost consultation in the beginning and then, if the matter has merit and value, will usually agree to work on a contingency basis, meaning you can hire an attorney without paying any money until the matter results in a positive outcome for you. Many advance all the costs of the litigation as well. Do not let fear of fees and costs keep you from finding a good attorney.

Good luck to you.

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.