Masks in Public Places: Public Accommodation Discrimination

Posted on December 15th, 2020 in Civil Right

As of November 17, there is a statewide order under the Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, that announced that face masks must be worn both indoors and outdoors, regardless of distance. When outdoors, face-coverings must be worn when in the company of those who are not members of the person’s household.

In addition, masks must be worn when:

  • In public spaces
  • In the company of family and friends
  • In the workplace
  • In places of worship
  • In public or shared transportation
  • In long-term care facilities

However, the new mandate begs the question, who is exempt from the mandate and if there are exemptions, can those people be refused public accommodation?

Disabilities and Face Masks

Under the statewide mandate, children two years and older are required to wear a face-mask unless they have a medical or mental health condition or disability, as defined by the Rehabilitation Act or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

However, under the updated order, a public place may not require proof of the condition or disability or require visitors to explain the nature of their condition.

Can you be denied entry for not wearing a mask?

Many people do not realize that the mask mandate is a legal order under the Disease Prevention and Control Law. This means that law enforcement can issue warnings and citations for not complying with the order. The Department of Health can also issue warnings and citations to businesses, people, facilities, and organizations that do not comply with the order.

But because a public place like a business cannot ask for proof if someone does not comply with the mandate, what can they do? If a customer is not wearing a face-covering, the business can deny entry but must offer a reasonable accommodation.

So where is the line between denying entry for public safety and discrimination in public accommodation? The answer is complicated.

Businesses can have stricter mask regulations than the state mandates require, but business owners must walk a fine line.

But given the changing mandates and the uncertainty of COVID-19, knowing if you are a victim of discrimination for not wearing a mask, can be complicated.

Wearing Masks and Refusing Service: Attorney Craig Kalinoski

COVID-19 has made the line between civil rights public safety to be blurred. But if you feel like you were denied service for a discriminatory reason, you need legal protection.

Scranton civil rights attorney Craig Kalinoski is here for you in your discrimination in public accommodations case. If you were denied service in a place of public accommodation, you need the legal support of Scranton lawyer Craig Kalinoski. He will protect your rights and seek answers. Contact us today.

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