Retail Workers Face Violence, Disrespect As States Open Up For Business Again

Liz Carey

Flint, MI (WorkersCompensation.com) – Authorities in Michigan have been investigating the shooting of a retail worker whom they think was killed because he asked a customer to wear a mask.

In a Holly, MI store, a customer wiped his nose on an employee’s shirt after the employee asked him to wear a mask.

And in Stillwater, OK, the mayor rescinded his mandatory mask policy 24-hours after putting it into place when retail workers and government employees were “threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse.”

As the country opens up for business, retail employees are facing violence and disrespect as employers try to protect their employees during the coronavirus pandemic.

In Flint, MI, authorities said a Family Dollar store security guard was shot on Friday after he allegedly told a shopper that their child had to wear a mask to enter the store.

David Leyton, Genesee County Prosecutor, said during a press conference yesterday that Calvin Munerly, 43, told Sharmel Lashe Teague, 45, that customers needed to wear face masks in the store. In response, Teague yelled at Munerly, spit on him and drove off, Leyton said.

Later, she returned to the store with her husband and son, Larry Edward Teague, 44 and Ramonyea Travon Bishop, 23, and confronted Munerlyn. After the confrontation, Bishop pulled out a gun and shot Munerlyn, Leyton said video surveillance footage and witness interviews showed.

Michigan requires people to wear face coverings in businesses and that stores can refuse service to customers who aren’t wearing them.

Sharmel Teague has been arrested by the Michigan State Police, but they are still looking for the two men, said Special 1st Lt. David Kaiser.

In Holly, MI, a Dollar Tree employee is seen in a video asking a customer to wear a face mask before the man approaches the employee and wipes his nose on the employee’s right sleeve. Police are still looking for the man whom witnesses said was loud and disruptive as he was leaving the store.

In Stillwater, OK, Mayor Will Joyce amended his emergency declaration requiring customers to wear face masks when they were inside businesses. Citing threats of violence to retail employees, Joyce rescinded his call for face masks to be required saying now that they are strongly recommended.

“In the short time beginning on May 1, 2020, that face coverings have been required for entry into stores/restaurants, store employees have been threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse,” City Manager Norman McNickle said in a statement. “In addition, there has been one threat of violence using a firearm. This has occurred in three short hours and in the face of clear medical evidence that face coverings help contain the spread of COVID-19.”

McNickle said employees at city hall were also threatened over the phone and in person.

“In that effort to insure the safety of others, we now have to weigh the safety of store owners and employees to threats of violence,” McNickle said. “We cannot, in clear conscience, put our local business community in harm’s way, nor can the police be everywhere. Accordingly, we will now be asking our local stores and businesses to encourage, but not require, patrons to cover their faces. Of course, each business can choose to adopt a more stringent approach, and we ask everyone to respect and abide by such decisions.”

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