Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

The Customer Is Always Right

Document type Thesis
Author Owens, Benjamin
Degree M.A., Labour Studies
Publisher McMaster University; Hamilton, Ont.
Date 2019
Pages 76 pages


Previous research has indicated the prevalence of customer violence towards workers in the service sector, but few studies have looked at the impacts of this violence for LGBTQ2S+ workers. Drawing from survey results (n=208) and interviews (n=11) with LGBTQ2S+ service sector workers in Windsor and Sudbury, Ontario, this thesis explores the rates and experiences of customer violence for these workers, using chi-square analyses to identify relationships between customer violence and independent variables related to workers’ identity and workplace. Further analysis was conducted on qualitative interview data to understand how this violence was experienced, as well as how workers resisted and perceived management’s response. Customer violence was found to be widespread among survey and interview participants, with participants who were racialized as non-white, union members, and in precarious work situations reporting higher levels of violence. Interviews also showed how participants often resisted customer violence through individual means, and perceived support from management to be lacking and contingent upon economic motivations.