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  1. #1

    Question Covid, Masks, Stores

    My question involves civil rights in the State of: California

    I recently witnessed an argument in a local grocery store between a man who insisted on not wearing a mask and the store manager who was insisting that he leave the store. The man claimed a medical problem that excluded him from the state mask rules. It seems to me that there are actually two different ways to look at this, and I'm wondering which would dominate legally (I am not a lawyer).

    First, I believe that it is true that there are state mandates regarding wearing of masks inside public places, and that it is also true that those mandates come with a medical exemption.

    Second, I believe that it is true that businesses have a right to refuse service to anyone at any time, if there is a good cause for their refusal and if they do not unfairly discriminate against members of a range of groups (sex, race, national origin, etc.). I also believe that there have been some court decisions during the pandemic which have found that attempting to prevent one's employees and customers from infection with CoViD-19 is a good cause for refusal of service (I do not know if any of these were in California).

    So, we have two grounds (and who knows, possibly more) for why a store might refuse service to maskless individuals during the pandemic. But the first one includes a medical exemption while the second does not. How does this mismatch affect the civil rights of maskless customers versus store managers? Must the store manager respect the medical exemption and let the maskless man shop, or must the maskless man respect the right of the store manager to refuse service to him on the valid ground of protecting his employees and other customers, and leave?

    Or, have I misunderstood something basic about this and the question makes no sense as posed?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    8,004

    Default Re: Covid, Masks, Stores

    The maskless man is on private property so if told to leave, he needs to do so.

    Most stores offer alternatives for those who may not be able to wear a mask for some reason. Something to note is that many of the people claiming this are troublemakers who can't think of others.

    If he disagrees, he can address it through the store's upper leadership or via the courts.
    I am the Mouse Man

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
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    178

    Default Re: Covid, Masks, Stores

    Quote Quoting Greg Shenaut
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    Second, I believe that it is true that businesses have a right to refuse service to anyone at any time, if there is a good cause for their refusal and if they do not unfairly discriminate against members of a range of groups (sex, race, national origin, etc.).
    The bolded/underlined portion of your statement is incorrect. There doesn't need to be "good cause", or even any "cause", as long as the reason isn't discriminatory.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    2,730

    Default Re: Covid, Masks, Stores

    This has nothing to do with civil rights.

    Unless the applicable state and local laws requiring masks require that businesses allow persons exempt from the mask laws to enter and shop, the store has the right to exclude a customer for not wearing a mask.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
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    Default Re: Covid, Masks, Stores

    This would seem to fall under the protections of the American Disability Act. You just don't mess with physically impaired people.

    I'd like to see the overzealous, paranoid employee get an education.

  6. #6
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    Sep 2020
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    Default Re: Covid, Masks, Stores

    Quote Quoting Harold99
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    This would seem to fall under the protections of the American Disability Act. You just don't mess with physically impaired people.

    I'd like to see the overzealous, paranoid employee get an education.
    You won't because it doesn't.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    8,238

    Default Re: Covid, Masks, Stores

    Quote Quoting Harold99
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    This would seem to fall under the protections of the American Disability Act.
    You are right to suggest that the ADA might apply, though it wouldn't allow the customer to just shop as usual without a mask. First, let's put aside for a minute that some people going into stores maskless and then claiming a medical reason for not wearing masks really don't have any such condition. We all know some of those people are out there and those situations provoke a lot of outrage that can taint a discussion on this.

    There are some for whom that claim would be true. Under the ADA the store could not discriminate against that person just because he or she has that condition. And to the extent that the disability prevented the person from using the store's services like anyone else, the store needs to provide a reasonable accommodation for that disability. However, such an accommodation does not include actions that would potentially put staff and other customers at risk of an infectious disease.

    As the ADA itself states: "Nothing in this subchapter shall require an entity to permit an individual to participate in or benefit from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of such entity where such individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. The term 'direct threat' means a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices, or procedures or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services." 42 USC 12182(b)(3).

    If that customer is infected with covid-19 then not wearing a mask creates a greater risk of infection to other customers and employees. As it is impossible to know exactly which customers are infected and which are not it's reasonable for the store to assume that any customer might be infected and take steps to reduce the risk of spreading that infection. That includes insisting that customers wear masks. Hence all the government and health professional recommendations that people wear masks in public. A store is entitled to take that into account and bar the customer from wandering around the store without a mask so as not to create that increased risk to others. If the store can reasonably accommodate this customer some other way that would not pose the the risk of infecting others, however, it may be required to do that.

    In short, a disability under the ADA does not mean the disabled person can compel the store to do whatever the customer wants to address that disability. But the store might have to do something to address the disability in way that allows the customer to buy from the store.

  8. #8
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    16,445

    Default Re: Covid, Masks, Stores

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
    View Post
    You are right to suggest that the ADA might apply, though it wouldn't allow the customer to just shop as usual without a mask. First, let's put aside for a minute that some people going into stores maskless and then claiming a medical reason for not wearing masks really don't have any such condition. We all know some of those people are out there and those situations provoke a lot of outrage that can taint a discussion on this.

    There are some for whom that claim would be true. Under the ADA the store could not discriminate against that person just because he or she has that condition. And to the extent that the disability prevented the person from using the store's services like anyone else, the store needs to provide a reasonable accommodation for that disability. However, such an accommodation does not include actions that would potentially put staff and other customers at risk of an infectious disease.

    As the ADA itself states: "Nothing in this subchapter shall require an entity to permit an individual to participate in or benefit from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of such entity where such individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. The term 'direct threat' means a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices, or procedures or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services." 42 USC 12182(b)(3).

    If that customer is infected with covid-19 then not wearing a mask creates a greater risk of infection to other customers and employees. As it is impossible to know exactly which customers are infected and which are not it's reasonable for the store to assume that any customer might be infected and take steps to reduce the risk of spreading that infection. That includes insisting that customers wear masks. Hence all the government and health professional recommendations that people wear masks in public. A store is entitled to take that into account and bar the customer from wandering around the store without a mask so as not to create that increased risk to others. If the store can reasonably accommodate this customer some other way that would not pose the the risk of infecting others, however, it may be required to do that.

    In short, a disability under the ADA does not mean the disabled person can compel the store to do whatever the customer wants to address that disability. But the store might have to do something to address the disability in way that allows the customer to buy from the store.
    Since most stores have delivery and pickup options, that would seem to accommodate the ADA.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Covid, Masks, Stores

    Quote Quoting llworking
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    Since most stores have delivery and pickup options, that would seem to accommodate the ADA.
    Since most stores have cups and toilet paper, maybe they don't need ADA restrooms either. "YOU can go out back."

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Covid, Masks, Stores

    Just to make sure it's clear, Harold, is it your contention that all a person has to do is walk into a store and claim they have a medical condition that precludes them from wearing a mask, and on that claim with no supporting evidence the store owner/employee is compelled to allow that person into the store and shop maskless?

    And if that is not what you are claiming, what are you?

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