The customer isn’t always right: What employers can do to stop worker abuse

Another year, another media campaign about the abuse of retail-sector workers.
Retail union the SDA has released the findings from its annual survey into rates of worker abuse in the retail industry, finding 87% of more than 1000 responding fast-food workers have experienced verbal abuse or aggressive behaviour.
Last year, a survey of over 6,000 retail and fast-food workers found over 85% had experienced verbal abuse from customers at work, while 34% had been threatened over the preceding 12 months.
In the years before, the SDA revealed about half of over 10,000 workers surveyed between 2015 and 2016 experienced violence or workplace abuse.
Things clearly haven’t improved much, despite consecutive years of sustained campaigning trying to tackle the problem.
This year, some workers reported being verbally threatened and even having coffee thrown in their face.
“I’ve had people say things like ‘I’ll meet you out the front’, threatening to fight me. One customer became angry at me and said: ‘I do MMA (mixed martial arts), I could bash you up’,” retail worker Lawrence told the SDA.
Employers undoubtedly have a crucial role to play in addressing retail worker abuse, but typically campaigning has focused on raising awareness among the public about the issue.
For Monroe’s Burgers & Beers co-owner Paul Stephens, dealing with abusive or angry customers is about an appropriate response. Read more

Matthew Elmas – SmartCompany – 11 December 2018