Coronavirus News

Judge orders high-profile Dallas restaurant to allow employee to wear face mask

High-profile Dallas restaurant ordered to allow employee to wear mask

waitress wearing mask at restaurant
Masks and other safety precautions have become a political thing. Photo by reklamlar/Getty Images

A worker at a high-profile restaurant in Dallas will be allowed to wear a face mask to work after a state judge intervened.

"Jane Doe," an employee of Hillstone Restaurant Group, which owns Houston's and R+D Kitchen, filed a petition challenging a company policy that forbade employees to wear masks. Employees who wanted to wear masks while working were not put on the work schedule.

Masks and other steps recommended to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus have become a political issue in the past few weeks, complicated by conflicting reports about what's required, and whether those requirements are being enforced.

Regarding masks, the Centers for Disease Control recommends their use while in public. Unfortunately, cloth masks most people are using do not have the protective properties of masks worn by healthcare workers. But those observing greater caution say that cloth masks or coverings are better than no mask at all.

Most cities in Texas, including Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, have enacted face-covering mandates, but the state of Texas has not. And Gov. Greg Abbott has made it clear he not only will not pursue enforcement, he'll reward the person who defies those orders, as he did with Shelley Luther, the infamous salon owner from Dallas. After she was put in jail for defying an order to keep her salon closed, he issued a retroactive order saying that anyone who ignored mandates would not face jail time.

Residents on the cautious end are those diligently observing stay-at-home orders, leaving only for essential tasks like getting food, in order to avoid catching the virus or infecting others. At the other extreme are those who insist that the virus is not that serious, and who are eager to get back to "normal," even though the number of positive cases in Texas keeps rising.

That includes Hillstone customers who are still showing up at the restaurant without masks.

Hillstone posted a statement on its website that says, "Current orders do not require our workers to wear face masks. If you are concerned about your safety in this respect, we hope you will join us at a later date."

The judge's new order requiring Hillstone to allow employees to wear masks is in effect for the next 14 days.

Brent Walker, a lawyer who represents Jane Doe, says, "The question now is, will Hillstone follow the law and require the rest of its employees to use face coverings? If they are not going to follow the law, will they at least do the reasonable thing and allow employees who want to wear face coverings consistent with CDC recommendations to do so?"