Much of the business community, along with the rest of the country, was taken by surprise by the CDC guidance regarding mask wearing issued on May 13, 2021. It was unclear how the new guidance, subsequently adopted in many states, would impact public-facing private businesses, which under the guidance clearly had the option to apply different rules in their workplaces, but which faced clear practical problems in doing so in the form of pushback (verbal or physical) from customers who were told by the government that they could forego mask wearing. However, competing concerns about safety of employees, particularly in workforces with low immunization rates, have led to demands from the business community for guidance. In partial response, on May 28, 2021, the EEOC updated its guidance concerning the application of equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws to pandemic-related employment policies.

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