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May 14, 2021

Updated CDC Guidance and Its Impact on Face Masks at the Dealership

OADA has received several calls from dealers regarding new developments related to face masks in the workplace in Ohio.  As most dealers are aware, the CDC updated its guidance yesterday stating that, “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.” [Emphasis Added] For more detailed information please see the CDC’s updated Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People.

Remember that the state of Ohio’s Face Mask Order remains in effect until Wednesday, June 02, 2021.  The CDC’s guidance does not preempt Ohio’s Face Mask Order.  Therefore, dealerships must continue to have employees wear masks (unless they meet an exception) until Ohio’s Face Mask Order expires.

Even when Ohio’s Facemask Order expires, there are additional issues an employer needs to consider before implementing a new policy.  To discuss these issues, the experts at Fisher Phillips have prepared the article Employers May Be Able to Scrap Mask Mandates for Fully Vaccinated Workers: A 7-Step Blueprint to Overcome Risks and Hurdles.

Some important considerations include:

  • The CDC’s updated Guidance ONLY applies to those who have been fully vaccinated;
  • The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not yet relaxed its COVID-19 standards for workplaces;
  • Creating a policy would require the employer to inquire about and probably track the vaccine status of your workers to determine whether someone is fully vaccinated, which could raise privacy and disability discrimination concerns;
  • Some of your workers may have legitimate medical or religious reasons for abstaining from the vaccine, requiring you to take their accommodation status into account when developing business-wide policies; and
  • Workers who are unvaccinated and thus required to continue wearing masks and maintain social distancing could have a claim for retaliation if they are harassed or discriminated against in violation of federal safety laws or other legal principles.

Dealers should review Fisher Phillips’ article as it explores these issues further in preparation for the relaxed health orders and recommendations to take effect.  For additional questions about policies and procedures, contact Melanie Webber at Fisher Phillips’ Cleveland office at 440-838-8800.  OADA will continue to provide more information as it becomes available.