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Benjamin Owens

Research Findings

Customer abuse and aggression as labour control against LGBTQ+ service sector workers

March 31, 2022

Anyone who has worked with the public has likely dealt with irate customers. Abuse and aggression from customers is a common experience in ‘low wage service’ jobs. These are jobs that are customer facing, pay at or just above the minimum wage, and are precarious and unstable. Over the past 50 years the number of people Canada and the US working in low wage services has expanded so that it now surpasses the number of people working in manufacturing. Women and people who are racialized as non-white are more likely to be working in these jobs, as are LGBTQ+ people.

Given that LGBTQ+ people are frequently employed in low wage services, we decided to look at how gender and sexuality influence their experiences of customer abuse and aggression in a recent article in Work, Employment, and Society. As we expected, interviews with 30 LGBTQ+ service workers in Windsor and Sudbury, Ontario, revealed that LGBTQ+ people experienced customer abuse and aggression related to their gender identity and sexual orientation.

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