The year 2020 has been like no other. Seemingly a convergence of two of our worst tendencies, there is a dramatic increase in the number of employees reporting attacks by customers. Often the reason for the attack is the customer’s refusal to follow the state law or store policy that all must wear a mask in the business. The attack’s cause is often based on a non-scientific theory claiming that the virus is a hoax or the simple refusal to obey the rules.
Menards incident in Mankato
There have been other incidents in the state and around the country, but a May 17 incident involved a woman who refused to wear a mask stands out. When Menards’ employees asked her to leave the store because she was not wearing a mask, the woman slapped an employee across the face and ripped their face mask off. The incident was caught on video surveillance, which was then passed to the Mankato Police. She was promptly identified and faced two counts of fifth-degree assault and one count of disorderly conduct.
Other attacks cause injuries and shootings
Unfortunately, the Mankato woman was not the worst of it. After instituting rules to wear facemasks, several big box stores subsequently issued a memo to employees to not enforce the rule because of reports of customers violently attacking or shooting the person doing their job. Osha has issued clear rules on employers protecting employees from attack.
Those attacked should take steps to protect themselves and then call law enforcement to report the incident. As with other kinds of injuries, employees should seek medical help if they are injured. Those injured on the job due to an attack should get worker’s compensation benefits. If the benefits do not match the injury’s extent, the employee may wish to contact an attorney who handles worker’s compensation here in Minnesota.