By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — The Evers administration’s new directives on face masks aren’t merely recommendations. State Employees who refuse to wear a face covering could lose their jobs, according to the state Division of Personnel Management.
In a Frequently Asked Question section of Evers’ new government mask mandate, the question is:
“Is it true that I could be subject to discipline for refusing to wear a mask if I am unvaccinated and/or if I do not have an approved reasonable accommodation?”
“Yes, as is true for any required protective equipment, employees who refuse to wear a mask without authorization to do so may be subject to discipline up to and including termination.”
The mandate went into effect last week amid fears of rising COVID-19 cases driven by the so-called delta variant. It requires all state employees to wear a mask in “state buildings or while in a building on state business regardless of vaccination status.”
Some employees are concerned the open-ended language will require them to wear masks in their own homes while on government time. That’s what Department of Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole demanded of DNR employees last year.
The Personnel memo lays out the strict requirements. Masks are required even if a state employee can physically distance herself, according to the document.
“Yes, masks are required at all times to help control the spread of COVID-19 within the worksite and the communities in which we live.”
What should an employee do if he sees someone not wearing a mask, “even though they should be?”
Nothing, according to the FAQ sheet, noting that some people have conditions or circumstances that would make wearing a cloth face covering difficult or dangerous. But employees with concerns “are encouraged to discuss their concerns with their supervisor or human resources,” who then may discipline the employees for failing to wear a mask, “up to and including termination.”