Texas Judge Issues Injunction Allowing Hillstone Employee to Wear Mask at Work

Following a directive from Hillstone Restaurant Group that forbid its employees from wearing face masks during dinner service, a Texas state judge has issued an injunction allowing at least one of those employees to wear a mask while working.

On Thursday, State District Judge Tonya Parker ruled in favor of an employee, identified as Jane Doe, who filed a petition asking the court to allow her to return to work wearing a mask, according to the Dallas Morning News. The employee’s petition originally included all employees who work at Hillstone restaurants, but the company attempted to move the case to federal court, which moved Doe’s attorneys to amend the case to focus on just her so that it could stay in state court.

Under the new order, Jane Doe will be allowed to return to work at her regular hours while wearing a mask for at least the next two weeks. According to the complaint, employees who wanted to wear masks weren’t being scheduled for shifts, and Doe missed about 40 hours of work before Parker’s ruling.

Originally, Hillstone Restaurant Group told its employees at R&D Kitchen, Hillstone, and Houston’s that they wouldn’t be able to wear masks while working, despite a county-wide order requiring restaurant employees and diners to wear masks while indoors. According to Park Cities People, Hillstone employees were told that the company would not allow masks because they were not required by the state’s coronavirus prevention guidelines, and that some workers were fired because they didn’t want to return to work without face masks.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s “Open Texas” plan, which provides guidance for restaurants reopening their dining rooms at limited capacity, does not require restaurant employees to wear masks explicitly, but does suggest that measures like wearing masks should be implemented if social distancing is not possible. The plan also asks that restaurants “use common sense and wise judgment that will protect health and support economic revitalization.”

Hillstone Restaurant Group has not responded to Parker’s order in court or via public statement.

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