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Pennsylvania Grocery Store Chain Faces Multiple Federal Lawsuits Over Face Mask Policy (PA)

July 10, 2020

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<p style="text-align: justify;">Numerous lawsuits have been filed in the Western District of Pennsylvania against Giant Eagle, a Pennsylvania grocery store chain, over its face mask policy. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Governor Wolf has instituted various mandates in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, including, <em>inter alia</em>, a requirement that individuals must wear face coverings while in public spaces. In the Complaints, it is alleged that Giant Eagle adopted a policy that requires shoppers to wear a face covering regardless of whether the shopper has a medical condition. Plaintiffs allege that they suffer from medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering and were denied entry to Giant Eagle due to their refusal to comply with the store’s policy.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Furthermore, plaintiffs allege that Giant Eagle’s policy is in direct contradiction to Governor Wolf’s April 19, 2020 Order which states, in relevant part, that individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition may enter the premises and are not required to wear a mask. Plaintiffs allege that Giant Eagle’s “arbitrary policy” violates Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”). The Complaints allege that the grocery store chain treats its customers who cannot wear masks due to a disability like “lepers” rather than “guests.”</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Now that many states have begun to reopen retail establishments, we will likely see similar types of lawsuits filed. In addition, businesses will now be faced with the problem of balancing its interest in protecting the health of its customers with the possibility of being sued over its mask policies. We will keep you posted as this develops.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Rachel Thompson for her contribution to this post. If you have any questions or comments, please contact <a href="mailto:chayes@wcmlaw.com">Colleen Hayes</a>.</p>

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