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In-N-Out employees can't wear masks without doctor's note starting Aug. 14

A popular burger chain will prohibit employees in Arizona and four other states from wearing masks unless they have a doctor’s note. 

In-N-Out employees who want to wear masks must provide a valid medical note explaining the reason for exemption and estimated duration, if applicable. 

In an internal memo that was leaked on social media, In-N-Out said the guidelines emphasize “the importance of customer service and the ability to show our Associates’ smiles and other facial features while considering the health and well-being of all individuals."

Failure to comply could result in disciplinary action, up to being fired. 

The policy, scheduled to begin Aug. 14, applies to employees in Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Utah and Texas. In-N-Out workers in California and Oregon can still wear masks because those states prohibit employers from banning them.  

The company emailed a response on Thursday, June 20: 

"At In-N-Out Burger, we’ve communicated with our smiles since 1948, and a smiling Associate helps to set a warm and inviting atmosphere in our stores.  We believe that wearing a mask literally adds a barrier to communication - much of which is nonverbal - and promotes a more distant and disconnected environment. 

In balancing these fundamental values while still accommodating the specific circumstances affecting our Associates, we have updated our internal guidelines to permit only those Associates with a medical need to wear a facemask while working. This change will be effective August 14, 2023, where local regulations allow."

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.