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Hillstone Restaurant Group changed policy after deciding not to go to court with employee who filed against them for mask policy.

Hillstone Restaurant Group appears to change its anti-face-mask policy after employee takes issue to court

The Houston’s parent posts new guidelines saying guests and staff may wear face coverings

A week after an employee at R + D Kitchen in Dallas filed a lawsuit and won a 14-day temporary restraining order allowing her to wear a protective mask at work, parent company Hillstone Restaurant Group appears to have changed its policy on face coverings.

The original policy — which was posted on their website — said that “masks are not required to be worn by guests or staff members.” That policy has been changed to clarify that “guests and staff members who wish to wear a mask are free to do so. Other guests and staff members may choose not to wear masks based on their personal preference and we ask that everyone respect those decisions.”

The unnamed employee, who filed a lawsuit against the company for her right to wear a face mask, alleged that she was denied work hours until she agreed to work without a mask after the restaurant reopened on May 1.

Following the ruling on the temporary restraining order from the 116th Judicial District Court in Dallas County, the case was scheduled to be removed to federal court on May 20, but Hillstone Restaurant Group has since retracted their request for a federal case.

“Defendant no longer wishes to maintain this action in federal court, and therefore files this motion seeking to remand this case back to state court,” the motion filed on May 13 said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have recommended the use of facial masks by food and agriculture workers to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. In addition, a Dallas County judge’s order from April 23 requires all workers at businesses to wear facial coverings. 

Texas is following the same system recommended by the CDC which indicates four levels of risk from green to red. Dallas County — which includes R + D Kitchen — is in the red zone where shelter in place orders are still in effect and limits foodservice businesses.

Restaurant Hospitality was unable to reach Hillstone Restaurant Group for comment, and the law firm involved in the federal case against the group also did not immediately respond.

Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi

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