Inappropriate Face Masks at Work

August 27, 2020
Conflict Management
Diversity and Inclusion
Read time: 2 mins

A face mask. The world’s newest fashion accessory. And just like return to work policies, face masks come in every shape and size imaginable. There are disposable masks, homemade ones, fancy masks and… those that are inappropriate.

Face Mask

Some masks are on the bubble - what one person thinks is fine someone else could possibly find offensive, like one that’s politically inspired. And some masks are definitely not for the workplace (or any place really). Obscene, graphic or explicit face coverings should be left at home. This goes for background screens when on Zoom or Teams calls as well.

What can you do as an HR pro about controversial face masks on the job? You can insist on plain face masks, or you can prohibit ones that contain expletives, inflammatory graphics or a message that violates your company’s equal employment opportunity, anti-discrimination, diversity and inclusion, or dress code policy. Keep in mind – if you require staff to wear only a certain color or kind of mask, it may be seen as part of a uniform, obligating you to provide those masks to all employees.

As the pandemic evolves, so do the issues and concerns. What we are addressing now may look quite different in a few months, or even weeks. It’s a good time to remember to stay calm and HR on.