Lynn business facing $136K fine for allegedly prohibiting employees, customers from wearing masks

LYNN, MASS. (WHDH) - A business in Lynn is facing a $136,000 fine for allegedly prohibiting employees and customers from wearing masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Department of Labor announced this week.

Ariana Murrell-Rosario, the owner of Liberty Tax Service, refused to let her employees and customers wear masks, failed to ensure that social distancing was practiced, and didn’t implement other safeguards to prevent the spread of coronavirus, according to a citation issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Murrell-Rosario said she did this because she feels masks are dangerous.

“There could be HIV virus on the mask, there could be herpes on the mask, there could be hepatitis on the mask. We don’t know what’s on those masks, we can’t take the risk,” she said.

During an inspection of Liberty Tax Service on March 17, 2021, OSHA found the following healthy and safety violations:

  • Prohibited employees and customers from wearing face coverings in the workplace despite a statewide mask order that mandated the business to require employees and customers to wear masks.
  • Required employees to work within 6 feet of each other and customers for multiple hours while not wearing face coverings.
  • Failed to provide adequate means of ventilation at the workplace.
  • Failed to implement controls such as physical barriers, pre-shift screening of employees, enhanced cleaning and other methods to reduce the potential for person-to-person transmission of the virus.

“This employer’s willful refusal to implement basic safeguards places her employees at an increased risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus,” OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton said in a news release. “Stopping the spread of this virus requires business’ support in implementing COVID-19 Prevention Programs, and ensuring that staff and customers wear face coverings and maintain physical distance from each other.”

Murrell-Rosario has been given 15 days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before an independent commission.

She says no one has gotten sick because of the policy. When asked if her employees were getting tested she said, “they’re not getting tested because they’re not sick.”

Murrell-Rosario said she intends to fight the fine.

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