This page contains information on the following. Click the link to jump to each topic:
Information on employee medical privacy, disability discrimination, and information on getting fired due to COVID-19.
Employee Medical Leave
Options for employees who need to take off work due to COVID-19.
Information on workplace safety requirements and employer liability.
Information on current unemployment benefits for those who are out of work due to COVID-19.
Information for Employers
General employment law information related to COVID-19.
Private businesses still have the right to require masks for customers and employees, but most state and local government entities can no longer do so.
Governor Abbott's Executive Order No. GA-38 [PDF] states the following regarding a private business's ability to require masks:
In providing or obtaining services, every person (including individuals, businesses, and other legal entities) is strongly encouraged to use good-faith efforts and available resources to follow the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) health recommendations, found at www.dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus
Previous executive orders related to the COVID-19 response explicitly stated that nothing in the orders prevented a business from requiring their customers to follow certain hygiene measures, including masks, but this language does not appear in GA-38.
Generally speaking, a business can set their own rules and policies — similar to a “no shirt, no shoes, no service” rule — as long as they do not discriminate against a protected class of people (e.g., on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or disability). Please see the Disabilities & Mask Requirements box on this page for information about requesting accommodations related to a disability.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (see FAQ G.2) an employer can require employees to wear protective gear (such as face coverings or gloves). Employees may make a request for a reasonable accommodation under the ADA or a religious accommodation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (such as a modified mask that can be worn with a religious head covering). Employers should provide the modification or an alternative modification unless it would create an “undue hardship” for the employer.