DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When it comes to coronavirus-related emergency orders that all non-essential businesses need to temporarily close, airlines, pharmacies and banks are clearly essential businesses.
Restaurants, gyms and bars are clearly not.READ MORE: Texas Experiencing Another COVID-19 Surge
But what about those in the grey area?
“The word ‘essential’ is too loosely used. It’s too broad,” says one North Texas employee who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation.
She works for a local brokerage company.
She says her employer is wrongly claiming to be a financial institution to stay open. “I personally think it’s a loophole. It’s a legal way to classify yourself as something especially when you know you’re not performing that function.”
WHO DECIDES WHAT BUSINESS IS “ESSENTIAL”?
Texas allows its municipalities have the final say.
This is why the essential lists may vary from county to county.
In a nationwide YouTube campaign, employees and consumers are weighing in one of the nation’s biggest video game stores.
They’ve been complaining about the stores staying open for weeks in the midst of the pandemic.
“Game stop is not closing its doors. Why? Why??” says Camelot331 on YouTube.
A Grapevine employee sent the I-Team an email saying all the company cares about is “…profit over public…”
The employee also sent us what he claims is an internal company telling employees GameStop is essential because “the products they carry enhance and enable” at home work.
Dallas County tells CBS 11 the retail chain is not essential.
HOBBY LOBBYREAD MORE: Administrative Court Judge Orders Mask-Wearing To Enter Dallas County Courthouses
And, for days, the I-Team has watched customers streaming in and out of Hobby Lobby locations across DFW.
This seemed to surprise Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins during a news conference.
“As I sit here today I can’t see how Hobby Lobby is a critical infrastructure, security act business. …The lawyers will have to talk to them and give them a chance to close if correct.”
In Dallas, if Hobby Lobby is in violation, it could face a $1,000 per day fine.
Neither GameStop nor Hobby Lobby has responded to the I-Team’s questions.
“This isn’t just a legal question. It’s a moral question,” says University of North Texas at Dallas College Of Law Professor Mike Maslanka.
Maslanka says if you believe an open business should be closed, you should report it.
WHERE TO REPORT A BUSINESS?
–You can go to your County Judge and file a complaint.
–If your city has a COVID-19 hotline or call center, report it there.
–Reach out to the code enforcement agency in your area.
–Or, call 3-1-1 or the non-emergency line in your county.
Maslanka says companies are putting profit before people right now.
“I hope it’s a minority. I think it’s a minority. I pray it’s a minority, but it is out there and it’s happening,” he said.
The North Texan employer who told the I-Team her company is using a loophole to operate, says she understands a businesses need to operate right now, but people should come first.
“I want employers to make money. I want employers to be successful. I want them to be as wealthy as they can be, but I also want to be successful and I also want to be healthy along with it.”
Before you a report a business, keep in mind some companies have shifted gears to make personal protective equipment and other items so they may now be considered essential.Summer Break Ends Early For Some Dallas ISD Schools