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CDC Releases Guidance on Handling COVID-19 Policy Disputes with Customers

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to impact businesses across the country, a growing number of confrontations have occurred when workers attempt to enforce their establishment’s COVID-19 prevention policies.

As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued new guidance instructing employees not to force any customer who appears upset or potentially violent to comply with their workplace’s COVID-19 prevention requirements. Such measures typically include the mandatory use of masks, social distancing standards and limiting the number of customers permitted within the establishment at any given time.

Guidance for Handling COVID-19 Policy Disputes

In the event that a customer does display any form of aggressive or violent behavior, the CDC recommends that employees remain calm, inform their supervisor and go to a safe area, if necessary.

While this guidance is for employees of all sectors, the CDC emphasizes that workers in retail and other service industries are more likely to experience workplace aggression. As such, employers and employees in these particular industries should be especially vigilant.

Workplace Violence Prevention Strategies

Apart from this new guidance, the CDC also provided the following strategies employers can take to help prevent workplace violence during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Clearly document your organization’s COVID-19 prevention policies and practices on your website and through workplace signage
  • Consider assigning two employees to work as a team to enforce COVID-19 prevention standards
  • Give customers options to limit contact with others (e.g., curbside pickup, personal shoppers, home deliveries or alternative shopping hours)
  • Implement steps for assessing and responding to workplace violence. Train employees on threat recognition, conflict resolution and nonviolent response methods
  • Utilize security systems within your workplace and train staff on how to use them
  • Establish a safe area for workers to go if they feel like they are in danger

For additional CDC guidance on this topic, click here. To learn more about protecting your business during the COVID-19 crisis, contact a VTC Insurance Group agent near you, give us a call, or visit vtcins.com.

The above content is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.


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