• Kelly Moringo

Attacks on Employees Over Face-Masks and Social Distancing Becoming Routine

Over the past month, several attacks on employees over face-masks and social-distancing practices have occurred at various businesses throughout the country. Violent assaults on workers simply enforcing state or corporate mandates continue to dominate headlines - as the United States grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, Vice reported an assault carried out by two anti-maskers shopping at a Trader Joe's in New York City. The customers allegedly attacked ten employees of the grocery store. One employee was hit in the head with a wooden paddle. Another employee had their personal face mask ripped off by one of the customers. A third had their hair yanked by the attackers. To top it all off - one of the two men even allegedly threatened to return to the store with a gun.

Earlier this week an employee at a Mapco in Nashville, Tennessee was physically assaulted by a customer after telling the mask-less customer to wear a mask the next time they came to the store, according to WKRN. After the request from the employee, the customer threw hand sanitizer at the man. When the employee then followed the customer outside to get their license plate for local police, the customer physically attacked the employee.

Most disturbing however are the reported attacks on teenage employees over this past weekend. Kelsy Wallace, a 17-year-old hostess at Chili's in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was attacked Sunday by several women in a large party according to WBRZ. The teenager had informed the party of 13 they could not be seated together - as management had instructed her to only seat six to a table. A brawl ensued when one of the women pushed Wallace. The teenager was pushed, shoved, and hit in the head with a wet floor sign by women described as "20, 30, and the woman that pushed me looked like she was 40" she told the local news.

That same day, a couple between the ages of 20 and 30 attacked a 17-year old employee of Sesame Place, a theme park in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, reported a local Philidelphia CBS affiliate. The employee had asked the couple to properly wear masks twice, and it was the second time that spurred the attack. Both the male and female punched the employee before fleeing the scene. The employee required jaw surgery at a local hospital.

While all incidents are sickening, it is especially disheartening for teenage employees to be attacked for doing their jobs. The incidents have prompted outrage across social media - leaving many appalled. A GoFundMe campaign has also been started for the Chili's employee. At the time of publishing, the campaign already has over 30,000 dollars donated.

With states like Illinois recently classifying any attack on retail workers enforcing mask policies as a felony, it is likely other states will follow suit. Especially given this weekend's attacks on minors.

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