"Smiles" emphasized over "health and wellbeing" as In-N-Out orders workers not to wear masks without doctor's note

Dr. Lucky Tran has shared an image on Twitter of a letter that In-N-Out Burger recently sent to its employees, explaining its "new mask guidelines that emphasize the importance of customer service and the ability to show our Associates' smiles and other facial features while considering the health and well-being of all individuals." How does banning masks contribute to the "health and well-being" of either employees or customers? This makes absolutely no sense, medically, so it's clearly just a statement (and practice) to stick it to the "woke."

For folks unable to see the tweet, here's the full text of the letter:

Dear Associate,

We are introducing new mask guidelines that emphasize the importance of customer service and the ability to show our Associates' smiles and other facial features while considering the health and well-being of all individuals. We believe this policy will also help to promote clear and effective communication both with our Customers and among our Associates. Our goal is to continue to provide safe and customer-centric Store and Support environments that balance two things that In-N-Out is known for – exceptional customer service and unmatched standards for health, safety, and quality.

Please find the details for our updated guidelines below (effective August 14, 2023):

General Guidelines 

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. Associates who wear masks for medical reasons must wear a company-provided N-95 mask. Note: A different type of mask may only be worn with a valid medical note exempting the Associate from the N-95 mask requirement. 

This policy applies to all Store and Support Associates working in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, and Utah except Associates who are required to wear masks or other protective gear as part of their job duties (e.g., patty room Associates, lab technicians, painters, etc.).

All Associates, regardless of whether or not they are required to wear a mask, are expected to maintain our grooming standards, proper personal hygiene, and cleanliness to ensure a safe working environment for all.

Medical Note

Associates who have a specific medical condition or health concern that requires them to wear a mask must provide a valid medical note to their Store Manager, Divisional Manager, Manager, or Human Resources. Without disclosing the medical diagnosis or confidential medical information, the medical note should clearly state the reason for the exemption and include the estimated duration, if applicable.

To the extent medical information is provided, it will be treated with strict confidentiality and handled in accordance with applicable privacy laws.

Compliance and Enforcement

Failure to comply with this policy may result in appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, based on the severity and frequency of the violation.

Policy Review

This policy will be reviewed periodically to ensure its effectiveness and compliance with evolving health guidelines. Revisions to the policy will be communicated to all Associates in a timely manner.

Local Health Authority Guidelines

This policy is subject to local health authority guidelines and regulations. In case of any conflicts or inconsistencies, the prevailing health guidelines will take precedence. In addition, we will continue to evaluate and approve (where appropriate) reasonable accommodations for medical, religious, and other protected reasons of our grooming guidelines.

It's no secret that In-N-Out Burger is a right-wing company—it opposed vaccines mandates and also supports anti-LGBTQ policies—so it is also not very surprising that they are now leading the charge to ban masks. For me, it's just another reason to never eat at In-N-Out again.