Facemasks Are the Rule in the Connecticut Workplace

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
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Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

On April 17, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order 7BB requiring state residents “who [are] unable to or [do] not maintain a safe social distance of approximately six feet from every other person” in a public place to “cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face-covering.”

Following this executive order, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) issued Safe Workplace Rules for Essential Employers addressing the required use of masks or cloth face coverings in the workplace. Effective immediately, employees are required to wear a mask or face covering “from the time they enter the building until the time they arrive at their cubicle/work station and at any time they are leaving their work station and moving around common areas (i.e. in hallways and stairwells, going to the restroom or break room, etc.).”

The DECD also addressed workplaces where employees work in “congregate settings” such as open manufacturing floors, warehouses, areas open to the public, and shared offices. According to the DECD, “those workers shall wear a face covering as [stated] above, as well as when they are at their work station.”

Exceptions to these general rules include:

  • when “an employee is using break time to eat or drink”;
  • “[i]n workplace settings where employees are working alone in segregated spaces (i.e. cubicles with walls, private offices, etc.)”; and
  • “in outdoor workspaces where employees do not regularly come within six feet of other employees.”

The guidance does not require an employee to use a mask or cloth face covering if “doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety because of a medical condition.” If an employee declines to wear a mask or cloth face covering because of a medical condition, an employer cannot require the employee “to produce medical documentation verifying the stated condition.”

Notably, the guidance requires employers to provide the masks or cloth face coverings to their employees. “In the event an employer is unable to provide masks or cloth face coverings to employees because of shortages or supply chain difficulties,” the guidance states, “employers must provide the materials and [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] tutorial about how to create a cloth mask covering, or compensate employees for the reasonable and necessary costs employees expend on such material to make their own masks or cloth face covering.”

Additionally, as you plan for the recovery, Ogletree Deakins is continuing to offer complimentary and regularly updated charts summarizing State and Local Closure Orders and Orders to Screen Employees for Symptoms and Provide Protective Measures.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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