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Employees Being Rude To Customers

Published 01 Feb 2014

Two recent cases have upheld an Employer’s right to discipline Employees who are rude to, or act in an unacceptable manner towards the Employer’s customers.


In one case a manager was sacked from his job at a liquor store after a customer had made a complaint against him. The complaint was made by email and the Employee replied to it himself and referred to the customer as “Miss Piggy” and that she was "rude and self-important".The Employment Relations Authority Member found the Employee’s dismissal was justifiable, saying his manager had given the worker ample time to respond to the allegations against him.

Sending the email to the customer alone might have justified dismissal, the Member said. "Coupled with his failure to acknowledge any culpability for his action, and his blaming of everyone but himself for it, I have no hesitation in finding his Employer was justified in dismissing him."

The Employee’s application for lost wages and compensation was dismissed.


In the other recent case, a "Loss Prevention Officer" at a retail store ejected a customer from the shop as their had a dog with them. She used inappropriate language to the customer and was later dismissed from her job, after an investigation was completed.

She took her case to the Employment Relations Authority, who held that as the Employee had not been subjected to any disciplinary procedures prior to that triggered by the incident on that led to her dismissal and that before the incident there had been no concerns about the Employee’s performance it considered that a fair and reasonable Employer would have taken these factors into consideration when considering the appropriate outcome, and should not have made a decision to dismiss the Employee. The Authority determined that the employee was unjustifiably dismissed by the Employer.

However, ejecting a customer from a store is a process which needed to be handled with delicacy to avoid offence, and Employee had failed to handle this situation appropriately and therefore the Employee’s contribution, to the situation in which she subsequently found herself, to be assessed at 100%, and accordingly award her no remedies.