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Violence in the workplace:

Workplace-that-has-been-turned-into-a -crime-scene.-Make-sure-this-is-not-about-you.
Workplace that has been turned into a crime scene. Make sure this is not about you. Violence in the workplace is common place. Read on what might happen to you.

Workplace violence: 6 examples from around the world

Violence in the workplace may be more common than you think. Research by SafeWork Australia reveals that almost a quarter (22 per cent) of workers have been physically assaulted or threatened by patients or customers. While over a third (37 per cent) have been sworn or yelled at in the workplace.

Statistics suggest the retail and health industries are particularly rife with workplace violence. Research from the National Retail Association shows that over 85 per cent of Australian retail workers have suffered verbal or physical abuse. While 61.9 per cent of health workers have experienced workplace violence, according to a Queensland University of Technology study.

In this article, we provide six examples of violence in the workplace that made news headlines recently. Some of these are particularly shocking, involving employees suffering abuse from customers or their boss. Others, however, involved rogue employees attacking customers or colleagues.

Employee-with-boxing-gloves-on.-Tired and-cannot-defend-himself-any-more.
Employee who is exhausted from defending himself in the workplace. All employees have rights. Take your concerns to Work Safe, the Fair Work Commission, the police, Seek help from your doctor. Get advice, call us.

Boss who pistol-whips employee, breaks jaw

In October 2023, a disturbing case of workplace violence made news headlines. The incident took place after an employee at a kitchen countertop store in Memphis, Tennessee turned up late for work. This did not please his boss, Othman Elkhayyat, who responded by physically assaulting the employee.

Mr Elkhayyat used his firearm to strike the employee repeatedly in the face. The employee then attempted to flee to a nearby business to seek refuge. But Mr Elkhayyat pursued him, continuing the attack. The Memphis Police Department reported that Mr Elkhayyat even fired a shot as the victim tried to escape the assault.


Othman-Elkhayyat-will-go-to-jail. Violence-in-the-workplace.
Othman Elkhayyat will go to jail. He should have went to HR

Boss attempts to pay off employee, sends death threats

The attack left the employee with a broken jaw, but he did not report it to the police. Some months later, he underwent surgery and was expected to have an extended stay in hospital. During this time, he received threatening phone calls from his boss. Mr Elkhayyat made threats that he would hurt the employee’s son if he went to the police.

He even sent his own father to the employee’s hospital room to force him to sign a document and receive $10,000. If he did not sign the document, Mr Elkhayyat’s father threatened to break his legs. The employee declined to sign, and a few days later he received several voice messages from Mr Elkhayyat threatening to murder him.

Boss is arrested

Mr Elkhayyat was subsequently arrested and released on bond. He told local media that the employee had started the altercation after making threats against him.

“They came back after they were dismissed and tried to steal our truck, and he had a screwdriver and was trying to start the truck with it and attacked me. And we called the police too,” Mr Elkhayyat claimed to media.

Mr Elkhayyat was charged with aggravated assault, harassment and coercion of a witness. He maintained his innocence, however, branding the charges “complete nonsense.”

After loosing his job an angry ex-employee returns to kill everyone at work. It is important employees know why they are dismissed so this type of behaviour does not happen. In the USA this is known as”doing a postie”.

Red Rooster worker fired for hitting customer gets workers’ comp

This case of violence in the workplace made headlines way back in 2011. It involved a manager at a Melbourne Red Rooster, Matthew Styles, who got into a fight with a customer in 2008. Mr Styles took the company to court over an injury he suffered during the fight.

The incident all started after three of his coworkers failed to show up for their shifts. Mr Styles then became involved in a verbal altercation with a customer. The customer, who was allegedly inebriated, was unhappy about the wait for his food. He asked Mr Styles if his order would be ready today.

To this, Mr Styles replied that it would be “ready tomorrow.” It was then that the customer became belligerent and threatened him. The court heard how the customer punched a window before shouting “I’m gonna find ya and kill ya.” Mr Styles replied by calling the irate customer a “f**king clown” and “f**king maggot.”

Video footage then showed him raising his fists as the customer walked towards him. The two men then went outside and “a struggle then ensued,” court documents state. The fight resulted in Mr Styles breaking his wrist.

Mr Styles wins workers’ compensation

Red Rooster subsequently dismissed Mr Styles for engaging in the fight. And the company rejected his worker’s compensation claim for the broken wrist. Red Rooster told the court that Mr Styles had violated its “employee behavior standards.” The company also highlighted his prior criminal record, which included arrests for assault.

However, the court found that Mr Styles’ injuries arose “out of or in the course of the employment.” He was therefore awarded workers’ compensation amounting to 13 weeks of pay.

Portrait of female employee with bruises on arms, feeling hopeless, making phone call. Domestic violence and abuse, sexual harassment is still common in workplace. Particularly amoungst migrants, remote workers, and the lower educated. Call us for assistance today.

Dismissed Starbucks barista smacks customer in face with wet rag

This story is a far less serious case of workplace violence. It involved a Starbucks barista who made headlines in 2021 after he was fired for an altercation with a customer. The barista, Robert Freda, worked at a Starbucks in the US city of Philadelphia. On 18 August 2021, the customer ordered a drink from Mr Freda. She told the barista that it had been prepared “wrong” and asked for it to be remade.

She claimed that Mr Freda responded with an attitude, filling her cup halfway with caramel and slamming it on the counter. That was when the customer asked to speak to the manager, who Mr Freda said was not available. It was then that the customer claimed Mr Freda “took his wet rag, smacked me in my face with it, and he swung at me.”

Barista is fired for violence in the workplace

However, Mr Freda had a different take on what happened. He told a local news outlet that he had “waved a wet rag in her face that I had in my hand.” And at that point, the customer “proceeded to jump across the counter swinging at me.” Mr Freda claimed that he was left with a black eye and marks on his body from the customer. “If anybody was left with more damage it was me,” he told media.

Following an investigation by Starbucks, Mr Freda was dismissed rom his position. A spokesperson for the company said that “Starbucks is a place where everyone should feel welcome.” And that “the type of behavior described in this incident is not indicative of the type of dignity and respect we want our partners and customers to show when in our stores.”

The customer involved in the altercation indicated her intention to press charges against Mr Freda. “What he did should not have happened at all,” she told media. “You don’t do that at all.” However, Mr Freda maintained that the “attack was initiated by her.”

Group of employees with a training certificate. Workplace training is important to avoid difficult situations, dismissals and confrontation

Dunkin Donuts worker shoots at customer

In March 2024, a Dunkin Donuts worker in the US state of North Carolina committed perhaps the worst kind of workplace violence. The incident resulted in charges against the employee, 18-year-old Ricky Miller.

According to a statement from local police, on 6 March they responded to a call from a customer who reported being fired upon by an employee at a Dunkin Donuts. The incident began when the customer expressed dissatisfaction with the service and requested a refund for his order. The situation quickly escalated into a verbal altercation between the customer and Mr Miller.

Ricky Miller. He is not going to be employee of the month.

As the customer attempted to leave the store, Mr Miller allegedly pursued him in his car. The customer claimed that Mr Miller drove into oncoming traffic, pulled alongside his vehicle, and proceeded to fire multiple shots into his truck. Fortunately, the incident left the customer unharmed.

Police soon arrived and found Mr Miller in his car near the scene of the shooting. However, he refused to comply with their attempts to initiate a traffic stop, leading to a brief pursuit. The chase came to an end when Mr Miller crashed his vehicle in a nearby field and was subsequently taken into custody.

Worker is dismissed and arrested

While searching Mr Miller’s car, police found a semi-automatic pistol with an altered serial number, along with other items described as evidence of the shooting. Mr Miller was subsequently charged with two counts of Felony Discharging a Firearm into an Occupied Dwelling, Felony Flee to Elude Arrest. Also, Possessing a Firearm with an Altered/Damaged Serial Number.

He was booked into a local detention centre and given a $4,000 bond. Mr Miller had remained in custody at the time that the shooting made global headlines. Dunkin Donuts confirmed to media that Mr Miller had been dismissed from the store. The company stated that it is cooperating with law enforcement authorities in their investigation.

A employee defends himself with an umbrella. Your actions have to be sensible to get senisible outcomes.

Dismissed worker attacks former managers at airport cafe

In January 2024, a video of an employee assaulting her former managers went viral on social media. The employee, Shacoria Elly, worked at a coffee shop in the Atalanta international airport in the US. She had gotten into an argument with a coworker about espresso shots. The argument soon boiled over and led to her manager firing Ms Elly. It was then that she decided to let fly at her managers.

“Give me my stuff,” Ms Elly was heard shouting as she attempted to access a restricted area behind the counter. One of the managers attempted to push her away, while another  intervened as Ms Elly tried to grab and throw a chair. Undeterred, she continued her aggressive behavior, assaulting one of the managers who retaliated by throwing her to the ground. Despite efforts from others to diffuse the situation, Ms Elly persisted, demanding her belongings and resorting to physical violence.

As the workplace violence escalated, with Ms Elly seen slapping one of the managers, the situation became increasingly volatile. “Call the police,” one of the managers shouted, as Ms Elly momentarily left the premises only to return and initiate another confrontation. It was then that she leaped over the counter and engaged in a physical altercation with one of the managers. The chaos ensued as Ms Elly, in an attempt to flee, tripped over herself and fell to the ground before eventually leaving the establishment.

Employee named Elly slapping her manager.

The police report confirmed Ms Elly was dismissed from her position, with her airport badge subsequently confiscated by security. While the incident prompted a response from Atlanta Police officers, Ms Elly had already departed the scene by the time they arrived. However, no charges were filed against her at the time of the incident.

 Walmart employee knocks out shopper that spat on him

Videos showing violence in the workplace are often quick to go viral on social media. Another such video emerged in June 2021 featuring an employee of US supermarket chain Walmart.  The incident unfolded at a Walmart store in Englewood, Colorado. The video begins by showing a shopper pushing a trolly loaded with products into the Walmart employee, pinning him against a display case near the cash registers.

The workplace violence intensifies as the customer, visibly agitated, spits at the store worker. Enraged, the Walmart employee proceeds to walk up behind the customer as shocked shoppers look on. A woman’s voice is then heard in the background pleading, “Don’t do it, don’t do it,” in an attempt to stop the employee from assaulting the customer.

Despite efforts from a colleague in a yellow vest to restrain him, the worker manages to break free. He then delivers a powerful punch to the back of the customer’s head. The abrupt knockout leaves the customer sprawled on the floor, prompting an alarm to blare in the background as the video concludes.

Employee delivers a powerful punch to the back of the employees head.

The video was originally uploaded to Facebook with the caption “Walmart Englewood ain’t playin today.” It did not, however, elaborate on what actually caused the fight. Following the incident, a Walmart spokesperson confirmed that the individual who punched the customer was a contracted third-party security worker. The company emphasised that he was not an official Walmart associate. Consequently, the security worker has been dismissed from working at Walmart stores in the future.

Conclusion to: Violence in the workplace:

If you do not understand what you need to provide when lodging a claim with the Fair Work Commission, we can help. We at A Whole New Approach have spent the last 30 years helping over 16,000 Australian workers make unfair dismissal claims. We are not lawyers but the nations leading advisors and commentators.

Our services go beyond unfair dismissals, encompassing general protections, forced resignations, redundancy, workplace harassment and more. Call us today on 1800 333 666 for a free and private consultation.

With a private and complementary consultation, we can help you understand the steps of making a claim. And we can give you the expert guidance you need to ensure your employer does not get away with violating your rights.

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