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Some Dallas Restaurant Workers Say They Were Given Ultimatum: Don't Wear Face Masks Or Don't Come To Work

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Texas restaurants that reopened at partial capacity last week have a choice to make: whether or not their employees should wear masks.

One restaurant company landed on a decision that has some employees weighing their safety versus their jobs.

No face masks or face coverings of any kind.

That's what a back-of-the-house employee at a Hillstone Restaurant Group establishment in Dallas was told last week, as restaurants prepared to reopen at 25% capacity.

That employee, who did not want to be identified publicly, expressed discomfort and was told to think about it - and then was removed from the schedule.

Another employee says some agreed to work because they were offered a 40-hour work week, but were told if they declined, they wouldn't be eligible for rehire.

She said management also told her that face masks don't complement the restaurant group's style or level of hospitality.

Hillstone Restaurant Group employees
Hillstone Restaurant Group employees (CBS 11)

Infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Diana Cervantes called Hillstone's decision concerning.

"It is really important to be able to wear those face coverings, especially if you can't keep that six foot social distancing, which of course when you go to a restaurant, that it very hard to maintain," said Dr. Cervantes, of UNT Health Science Center.

She points to Governor Greg Abbott's minimum standard health protocols for restaurants, which encourages social distancing first.

But if that's not feasible, it says measures such as face coverings should be rigorously practiced.

"The best way to precent that transmission is to prevent those droplets, and the face coverings really help with that," she said.

Hillstone management also points to the law, writing on its website, "Current orders do not require our staff or guests to wear face masks. If you are concerned about your safety in this respect, we hope you will join us a later date."

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