The decade's most triggering comedy
At the center of the debate was an apparent flyer sent out to In-N-Out Burger locations outside the chain’s home state of California, announcing new health guidelines starting on August 14 that determine no masks “shall be worn in the Store or Support facility unless an Associate has a valid medical note exempting him or her from this requirement,” and those who do get a doctor’s approval must wear a company-provided N-95 mask unless a physician advises otherwise.
The policy is said to apply to associates working in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and Utah, except those “who are required to wear masks or other protective gear as part of their job duties,” and is “subject to local health authority guidelines and regulations.”
Lucky Tran, who has been identified as a “science communicator” working at Columbia University, shared the screenshot on Twitter and encouraged people to reach out to the In-N-Out Burger’s customer service page regarding the chain’s “discriminatory policy banning masks.”
Businesses like In-N-Out burger are banning staff from wearing masks (unless they provide a medical note) pic.twitter.com/OchZl5STIH
— Dr. Lucky Tran (@luckytran) July 14, 2023
Users reacted with all sorts of commentary, ranging from horror to appreciation.
“Covid is a huge worker’s rights issue, and employers can now forcibly expose low wage workers to a deadly/disabling pathogen,” said Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz. “Meanwhile big leftists/labor organizers have aligned themselves w corporations pushing anti mask, anti public health, far right messaging on covid.”
While some commenters called for people to boycott or sue, Tran said that it was “critical to note In-N-Out isn’t trying this in CA because the state has laws preventing employers from banning masks.” Tran also noted that a recent court ruling in California that determined employers are not legally responsible for COVID spreading from workers to their family members “seems to have emboldened companies to try mask bans in other states without protections.”
Among those to deliver praise of In-N-Out was the Twitter account for the conservative group Turning Point USA. “Based,” it said in an approving tweet.
“Interesting way to clear out problem employees,” said criminal defense attorney Marina Medvin. “Fantastic! I hate when customer service people wear masks,” a different user said, “Also of note is the use of ‘him or her’ as these are the only two normal pronouns when referring to people. There’s a reason I love IN N OUT!
“In-N-Out Burger just did the single GREATEST thing I’ve ever seen a business do,” said “The Patriot Voice” account. The tweet also said the guidelines need to be ” the standard moving forward. Masks are not only unnecessary, ineffective, and disgusting…But, it also really hinders customer service when you can’t see the face of a staff member because of their face diaper.”
“In-N-Out has banned their employees from wearing masks unless they have a note from a doctor and the left is losing their woke minds over it,” quipped another.
The Daily Wire received a response from In-N-Out Burger days after publication of this report.
“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,” Chief Operating Officer Denny Warnick said in a statement.
“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,” Warnick added. “This change will be effective August 14, 2023, where local regulations allow.”
In-N-Out Burger made headlines during the height of the pandemic when multiple locations in California were shut down by health officials for refusing to check customers’ vaccination status before serving them food.
“We refuse to become the vaccination police for any government,” a spokesperson for the fast-food chain said at the time.