by Jason Angel
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently issued a warning about phony face mask exemption cards. Recently, the group called the Freedom to Breathe Agency issued such fraudulent cards that claim the cardholder is exempt from wearing a face covering.
More individuals or organizations are trying bully or scare business owners into allowing entry to their establishments without a face covering since wearing a face covering became politicized. Organizations like Freedom to Breathe have created more misinformation in a time of uncertainty. An internet search for exemption cards revealed several websites encouraging the use of such cards. Information on the card, threatens hefty fines or penalties if cardholders are denied entry.
In light of this developing issue, the DOJ issued a press release on June 30, 2020. Eric Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, stated that cards or flyers with the Department of Justice’s seal did not originate from the department. Furthermore, the DOJ clarified that the ADA does not provide a blanket exemption to people with disabilities from complying with legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operations.
To provide greater understanding on the subject, the New England ADA Center’s Kathy Gips gave an interview with the news network, NBC10 Boston, which was investigating the issue. “The cards are really completely bogus,” Gips said. She went on to add that this is not an issue of “personal freedom;” this is a medical/disability issue. To see the full story, click Justice Department Issues Warning About Fake Face Mask Exemption Cards.
Several resources provide some clarity between wearing face coverings and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Southeast ADA Center has issued a brief on the ADA and face mask policies. To read the brief, click The ADA and Face Mask Policies. The New England ADA Center’s COVID-19 resource page includes topics like face masks, civil rights, and employment during the pandemic. To view the resources, click COVID-19 and the ADA.
If you have any questions or concerns around this and other topics during the pandemic, email us at ADAinfo@newenglandada.org or call us toll free at 800-949-4232.
Image source: image courtesy of News Center Maine.