January 18, 2022

Volume XII, Number 18

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January 18, 2022

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Texas Businesses Across the State Face Fines for Failing to Comply With Newly-Issued Face Covering Mandates

As Texas has gradually reopened, the number of COVID-19 cases and associated hospitalizations has dramatically increased. In response to local conditions, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff recently issued Executive Order NW-10, under which all businesses operating in the county must adopt a health and safety policy that requires both employees and customers to wear face coverings. The order remains in effect through June 30, 2020, and imposes fines on businesses in amounts up to $1,000 per violation.

Judge Wolff’s order appeared to conflict with a series of executive orders issued by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. In the latest of those orders, Governor Abbott encouraged individuals to wear face coverings, but prohibited local authorities from imposing civil or criminal penalties on individuals who refused. However, consistent with the governor’s position, Judge Wolff’s order provides that “no civil or criminal penalty will be imposed on individuals for failure to wear a face covering.”

A number of Texas counties and cities have since issued similar orders that contain face covering mandates. Notably, orders issued in AustinDallas CountyHarris County (greater Houston area), and San Antonio require businesses to implement and follow health and safety policies that mandate the use of face coverings by employees and customers or face significant fines. Those fines range from $500 to $1,000 per violation, and can accrue on a daily basis. The city of Austin first issued an order that did not include fines, but the mayor released an amended order on June 22, 2020. Under the amended order, violations will be considered “a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000, but not by confinement.”

In addition to the above-referenced orders, other local jurisdictions are issuing similar orders. Businesses with operations in Texas should consider locating and reviewing orders that are applicable to their specific local jurisdictions (both county and city), and do so periodically as the orders are subject to change.

© 2022, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 178
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About this Author

Tiffany Cox Stacy Ogletree Deakins, Labor Policy Lawyer,
Shareholder

Ms. Cox is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Labor and Employment Law.  Ms. Cox primarily represents employers in all aspects of employment law, including counseling, training, drafting of policies, procedures, and agreements, and litigation.  Ms. Cox has represented employers before state and federal agencies and has defended employers in lawsuits brought in state and federal courts across the U.S., involving claims of workplace discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whistleblower violations, leave violations, and wage and hour claims...

210-277-3613
Of Counsel

Adam Courtin is an attorney in the San Antonio office of Ogletree Deakins. Mr. Courtin is Board Certified, Labor and Employment Law, Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Mr. Courtin has represented employers before state and federal agencies and has defended employers in state and federal lawsuits involving workplace discrimination, harassment, retaliation, leave violations, wage and hour issues, and First Amendment and due process violations. Mr. Courtin counsels clients on issues including employment law compliance, ADA accommodations, and FMLA leave.

2102773622
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