The Legal And Leadership Obligations To Address Customer Abuse

The workforce data provider, Black Box Intelligence, recently released the results of a survey of more than 4,700 former, current, and future hourly restaurant workers.

The survey found that an industry whose turnover is already among the highest, experienced a four to nine percent increase in turnover in 2020, when compared to 2019. Fifteen percent of workers surveyed said they left a restaurant job in the last year, while 33 percent of current workers wish to leave.

The reasons why so many want to leave may vary, but one interesting finding in the survey is that 62 percent of respondents say they experience emotional abuse and disrespect from customers. Forty-nine percent say they suffer abuse from their manager.

When asked if they would return to restaurant work, 66 percent of survey respondents said yes, as long as some of the negative aspects of the workplace were to change. Specific improvements identified in the survey were higher pay, consistent schedules and income, and a more positive work environment. Mary Meisenzahl "Over half of restaurant workers say they've been abused by customers or managers - and many are planning to flee the industry because of it" www.businessinsider.com (Oct. 08, 2021).

Commentary

Well over half of employees in the above survey (62 percent) received abuse by customers.

Safety and security are important elements of a positive work environment. Customer or client harassment and abuse undermine both.

Managers have a legal duty to prevent illegal harassment and a leadership obligation to protect employees from all other types of harassment and abuse. 

Promote a positive work environment by communicating to employees that their safety is paramount. Encourage them to report harassment or abuse from any source. Make sure those authorized in your workplace to manage reports of harassment are immediately informed. A proper response may include prohibiting the customer or client from the workplace.

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