A man has been arrested following a violent outburst inside a Richmond McDonald's that was caught on camera, marking the second time this year that video has surfaced showing staff at the restaurant being verbally abused.
The video circulating online shows a customer lashing out at staff after declaring he was unhappy with the service, tearing through plastic safety guards, throwing a garbage can at staff and violently knocking down displays and cashiers' tills while customers and staff can be heard yelling at him to stop.
Witnesses said he was pursued by police shortly after he left the restaurant and allegedly fought with them.
According to Richmond RCMP, two employees and two police officers were allegedly assaulted in Tuesday's incident. They have identified the suspect as a 30-year-old man from Delta who is facing possible charges of mischief over $5,000, assault and assaulting a peace officer.
Labour representatives say incidents targeting frontline workers have been on the rise over the past year, many of them attributed to frustrations surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, staff at the same McDonald's were berated by a customer allegedly following a dispute over masks. At the time, employees told CBC incidents like this occur on a near daily basis.
"It's been a stressful year for a lot of people, but nonetheless it's not an excuse for endangering workers in the workplace," said Sussanne Skidmore, secretary treasurer of the B.C. Federation of Labour.
"It's pretty emotional watching that and knowing how stressful those jobs can be ... frontline jobs have been incredibly important during the last year and a half," she said.
CBC News has reached out to restaurant management as well as McDonald's Canada for comment.
Incidents on the rise
Concerns of workplace violence both in B.C. and other parts of Canada have mounted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, much of it fuelled by conflict surrounding mask policies.
In November, a hotel worker in Nelson collapsed after she was spit on by a customer who refused to wear a mask.
That same month, a man was arrested for allegedly assaulting a Dawson Creek Walmart employee following a mask dispute.
"The impacts of violent incidences that happen in the workplace can have long impacts on people, whether it's through physical injury or psychological trauma," said Skidmore.
Skidmore says it's often women and members of racialized communities who are bearing the brunt of the abuse.
"The makeup of people on the front line in these jobs are often new people to our country. They're often women. They're often workers of colour ... and they've been working their butts off for the rest of us," she said.
She says employers need to ensure workplaces are safe. In the case of places that are known for repeat incidents, that can mean durable physical barriers and panic buttons that are monitored by security officers.
"Having people prepared for worst case scenarios can alleviate the situation," she said.
The federation is advocating for changes to B.C.'s Occupational Health and Safety Regulation to broaden the definition of workplace violence in its language so more incidents can prevented, Skidmore said.
"As a society, we need to make sure that we value all workers for the work that they do."