Most employers are required to have employees wear masks that are in contact with customers. Although currently the regulations generally do not specify any particular kind of mask, those details could be changing.
Nike was sued by a customer, a 22-year-old deaf college student for not complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act under Title III and The California Disability Rights Laws.
The student claims that deaf or hard of hearing people cannot adequately communicate with Nike employees due to the opaque masks worn by the employees. Nike has agreed to provide its employees with transparent masks that will allow deaf or hard of hearing customers to read the employees’ lips along with some other concessions.
“I hope that this settlement causes other retailers to follow suit voluntarily,” James F. Clapp of Clapp & Lauinger LLP, who represents Bunn and is also deaf himself.
The agreement to settle ended the allegations, but there could be future cases in this area due to potential conflicts between public health concerns and the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means employers may be forced to adjust their policies to ensure public health requirements do not conflict with disability laws.