To Mask or Not to Mask? Still a Hobson's Choice.

As I write this, I received an alert the OR Health Authority (OHA) who released further guidance about masking. Yet, there is nothing about those regulatory agencies such as OR-OSHA, Oregon Board of Cosmetology and other enforcement entities under the OHA who have the power to impose fines. Who has the time and money to defend "violations"?


As a business owner, I feel awkward about requesting information that is of sensitive subject matter and may be protected based on personal, religious, medical and other reasons. Moreover, I am not interested in placing employees at risk of an infection. After all, OSHA has a general duty clause that mandates employers protect employees from workplace hazards. This leaves business owners with a Hobson's choice.


What's an Employer To Do?

I recommend you do not make any changes until we receive clear guidance from the federal, state and regional authorities related to fines and closure penalties.


The burning question remains is how do businesses handle verifying vaccination records? More importantly, why do we have to?


The nitty gritty of the nebulus guidance is businesses have to take the brunt of potential unrealistic record keeping, screening and still may face fines from regulatory agencies.

At this point, I recommend everyone maintain the status quo. At the end of the day this vagueness will likely result in businesses losing employees and frustrating customers.


Employers may be opening themselves up for potential violation of the ADA and other discriminatory violations by checking for vaccination records. Be aware for the subtleness of someone who is inadvertently or indirectly disclosing information that may trigger the interactive process of accommodation under the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).


At the end of the day, employers and employees are left more confused than ever. Especially from a risk management standpoint.


My practice is built on providing businesses with creative options to avoid losing clients and being compliant with the alphabet soup of policies, laws and regulations.


Employers should get to choose their policies and if they want to implement a vaccination policy for their employees or patrons. GourmetHR has developed a vaccine policy and will be issuing further information as it develops.


If you want to know more about the "why" of this dilemma, here is more history.


Background:

On May 13, 2021 the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing both inside and out. While this is a wonderful sign we are on the downhill of the pandemic many business owners find themselves in a Hobson's choice. In other words, they are damned if they do and if they don't.


The fundamental premise of guidelines will be based upon vaccinated or non-vaccinated status. If your state allows requesting proof you will need to consider how this choice impacts your business and how to communicate to your patrons. I am hearing my clients and business owners have experienced upset customers because they are asked to wear a mask. The other side is customers who want or need to wear masks and may avoid soliciting the business. Each side has valid reasons for their beliefs. One bright spot is the proof of vaccination is not a HIPPA violation for many private businesses outside of healthcare.


Healthcare providers are restricted from sharing patient medical information but the individual is free to share their personal medical history with whomever they choose.


I am happy to discuss this or any other matter of your concern.










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