Burger King Employee Clocks Out, Then Clocks Customer

Here’s a lesson for all food service workers who intend on punching out a customer — be sure to clock out before you unleash your fists of fury in the parking lot.

According to police in Lower Paxton Township, PA., a verbal argument at the local Burger King escalated from words to violence yesterday, when an employee at the BK actually stepped out of the eatery to throw a punch — and a beverage — at a customer in the parking lot; but not until after he’d told his manager to clock him out.

The customer says he was attempting to place an order at the drive-thru but that the employee refused to display the price of an item. At some point in their back-and-forth, the customer apparently used an unspecified “derogatory” term to describe the employee.

That’s when the employee ditched his headphones, clocked out and socked the customer in the side of the head. Police say the customer suffered swelling and a bruise from the punch.

The police are going to charge the employee, who presumably did not clock back in, with simple assault. Meanwhile, he’ll probably be named employee of the month for being so conscientious about recording his hours on the job.

Burger King employee clocked out before attacking customer, Lower Paxton police say [PennLive.com]

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  1. s25843 says:

    Sounds like he wasn’t ringing the item up,, and was pocketing the profit. A good catch on the customer’s part.

    • Chaosium says:

      “Sounds like he wasn’t ringing the item up,, and was pocketing the profit. A good catch on the customer’s part.”

      If the dude was using racial epithets, I sincerely doubt the customer needed any special reason to throw them around.

      • Fair&Balanced says:

        It is just words.
        The employee was clearing stealing by refusing to give the customer a total price through the screen tied to the register.

        He should have got out of his car and beat the shit out of the employee with a tire iron.

        • guroth says:

          or they were busy and couldnt punch the items on the screen at the time (ringing up a different order, or needing a manager/supervisor to punch in a code, or maybe the employee couldn’t find the wopper button)

    • LazerBoy says:

      The customer caught something.

    • VvsK says:

      Possibly, but the derogatory name calling on the customer’s part was unneccessary. It’s hard to choose who’s right here; they both sound like idiots.

    • DH405 says:

      …or there was an error w/ the register. You think they continue that scam when a customer demands to see the item on the screen? Good way to get busted.

    • crazydavythe1st says:

      Wrong. Consider:

      a) Many customers pay with plastic now days. There’s no easy way to pocket the money when you have to swipe the card through the POS system.
      b) Even if the customer did pay cash, you would need someone to make the food for you. The entire restaurant would basically have to be in on the scam for this to work out. And the person taking the order would have to manually tell the grill people how to make your sandwich. It would be instantly obvious to anyone managing the restaurant that the number of people passing through your drive-thru was significantly less than the number of orders being placed.
      c) Most fast food restaurants have cameras EVERYWHERE in employee areas. If you ever see them at these restaurants, it is almost always about monitoring employees, not customers.
      d) Food is rigorously inventoried virtually to the molecular level. When a employee doesn’t make a customer’s order correctly, that food is stored and counted later. If you have ten items in a shift in the waste bin, then you’re only alloted ten extra items below the computerized inventory count. Even if you had the entire store in on the scam, it would take a enormous amount of work trying to doctor these records to hide the scam.

      Anyone that has actually worked fast food could probably tell you that this is just a cheat to reduce drive-thru times (or maybe the display was malfunctioning). Many times it can seem justified when a customer takes ten minutes to order in the drive-thru. Where I worked it was encouraged pretty much by everybody, because the not-so-bright corporate types that came up with the system didn’t seem to realize that you would have people coming through the drive-thru that apparently have no conception of how a drive-thru is supposed to work.

      My guess is that this happened, and while the employee could have displayed the price, he didn’t feel compelled to in the face of extremely rude treatment. The customer isn’t always right. I know that if this had happened to me, I wouldn’t have cared enough about my fast food job to let him assert his false sense of superiority on me – which is really what it is all about. I wouldn’t have punched him, but as a minimum wage type worker, someone will come in everyday and try to derive their sense of well-being from your suffering. I had someone tell me that all fast food workers were idiots, and that they wouldn’t be able to make change without a register telling them what the change should be. I was taking calculus at the time as a high school student at the local college, so sure – I didn’t have the intellectual capacity to make change.

      • Southern says:

        Anyone that has actually worked fast food could probably tell you that this is just a cheat to reduce drive-thru times (or maybe the display was malfunctioning).

        I *HATE* that. Nothing at a fast food drive-thru makes me madder (well, except for them getting my order wrong) than being asked to “please pull up while we prepare your order” because I KNOW they’re doing it just to cheat on their drive-thru times (some of them have goals as low as 30 seconds).. and no, I don’t sit at the menu for 10 minutes; I don’t even think the clock starts running until after they “total” the order anyway. :)

        Why even bother measuring drive-thru times if you’re just going to cheat on ‘em. Management obviously knows it’s going on, and it probably affects some kinda bonus the restaurant gets, but that should mean you become more efficient at the job, not just cheat the system.

        • Snoofin says:

          I dont mind having people be told to pull up. If Im behind some moron who has to make a complicated order at the drive through with all kinds of special requests instead of going inside, then after he is told to pull up they can bag my simple order and send me on my way so I dont have to wait forever.

        • crazydavythe1st says:

          It depends on the restaurant. The one I was at did measure the overall time – it was reasoned that if a customer took several minutes to order, we weren’t “helping them along” with the process as much as we should.

          As for the waste thing, in my experience it just depended on who was managing the place at the time to how it was handled. Most opted to take the food back and replace it, but they also had a way to re-input screwed up orders into the POS system that would allow the customer to keep the old food. I think most of the people I worked under had an irrational fear that customers were just trying to rip off food left and right, and so that, combined with the hassle of managing it in the POS system, led most of them to just say that customers had to be willing to return their food if they wanted a replacement.

          Nevertheless, there were a ridiculous number of protections built into the system that basically assured that you couldn’t just take an order and pocket the money. I think the biggest one that I didn’t even mention was the receipt. If they can’t give you one, that’s when you have a major problem.

      • Minze says:

        I would have to disagree with at least one part of this. On a couple occasions I have had my order messed up while going through the drive through. I ended up walking in to the store to let them know that it was a mistake. I was told to keep the food I had and my correct order was called back to the grill people to make. I was then given the correct sandwich.

        This flies in the face of (d) and would make me believe that if someone calls an order back to the grill manually it is common enough that they will give it to you expecting that it is just a mistake being corrected. This make (b) doubtful as well….at least for some of these fast food chains.

    • atheos says:

      it was probably another “faulty” register inflating the tax rate

  2. aja175 says:

    I wonder why the dude bothered clocking out? It’s not like he’s going to be able to keep his job after this one, even tho he wasn’t technically working.

    • frank64 says:

      He probably has seen other people get off on technicalities.

    • ARP says:

      It was also to prevent BK from being liable. Things done by a employee of a company are done by the company. There are exceptions (using fun legal terms like called “frolic and detour”), but that’s the general rule. This helps further separate the employee from the company. So, it may help him keep his job, not because he did something bad off the clock, but because it saved the company the hassle of litigating.

      • mythago says:

        Er, the company would still have the hassle of litigating whether or not the guy was acting in the scope of his employment. I agree that in his dim brain he may have thought he was protecting BK though.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        I want to know more about “frolic and detour.”

        • rockasocky says:

          Detour means the employee was taking a short, permissible deviation from what he was supposed to do (like a pizza guy stopping to grab a cup of coffee). In the case of detour, the employer might still be liable. Frolic is a big deviation (like a pizza guy stopping to gamble at a casino), in which case the employer is not liable.

          /studying for the bar too damn much

      • Fair&Balanced says:

        Since he was on the schedule, regardless if he clocked out early, and clearly attacking a customer BK will be just as liable as if he stayed clocked in.

        • brinks says:

          Yeah…and still being in the BK uniform and on their property isn’t going to help either.

    • Keavy_Rain says:

      Every minimum wage job I ever worked told me to clock out BEFORE you beat the obnoxious customer that totally deserves it.

  3. AngryK9 says:

    Sometimes a person gets what they deserve.

    • @BadCSR says:

      And that is why I have my conceal carry permit… you would hit me once before I shot you in the kneecaps.

      Then instead of flipping burgers he can be on disability.

      the moral: be careful who you mess with, and no matter how tough you are you aren’t immune to bullets.

      • JJ! says:

        And you would be in jail. Self defense laws don’t allow for excessive retaliation.

        That being said, the employee shouldn’t have hit the guy in the car, who shouldn’t have used curse words or freaked out about the screen.

        • @BadCSR says:

          I’m pretty sure I can call it self defense if I am in my car being assaulted by someone outside the vehicle.

          Especially after they find out he not only left the building but actually clocked out to come confront me.

          • JJ! says:

            It’s self defense, but the laws generally only allow you to escalate a certain amount and only allow you to do so after you attempt to flee. If you’re in a car, they would almost definitely rule that you could flee (step on gas, roll up window, etc). If you shoot someone who punches you, even if that person crossed seas and climbed mountains to get to you, you’re still in the wrong in the eyes of the law.

            You could probably get away with macing them, punching them, hitting them with the door upon getting out, kneeing them, and similar things, but not shooting them or knifing them.

          • PLAAND88 says:

            You have a duty to retreat, especially if the person assaulting you is not using deadly force. In this situation you would have had ample means and opportunity to remove yourself from harm’s way.

            Reasons why I don’t want to live in a CCW part of the world.

      • Doubts42 says:

        If you honestly believe that that would be a legal act then you either slept through your conceal class, or you are a liar and don’t actually have the permit.

  4. MamaBug says:

    although i’ve felt this way many times, hitting the customer is bad for business. it’s better to take a smoke break. if you’re working in NYC, you can just work another two hours to make up the cost of the pack!

  5. ExVee says:

    When I worked at Wal-Mart, someone was having complicated personal troubles one day (more than the one day but said troubles decided to come and visit in the store that day, long story.) and having noticed this another of my coworkers decided to step in on behalf of the first and basically verbally put an end to the whole situation.

    The instigator went to management about it, but the second employee had the presence of mind to clock out before saying a word, and the manager rightly explained that she had been off the clock and anything that happened was not the store’s problem. Shortly after, the manager praised her for going off the clock before stepping up.

    There were some pretty cool people at that job. Too bad it was still Wal-Mart.

    • frank64 says:

      That was personal in nature, this is about an employee interaction with a customer. I don’t see punching out as changing that.

      • UnbelieverDjak says:

        What’s more personal than punching someone? Well, I could think of a few things, but still…

        • frank64 says:

          I mean if someone he knew came in. If I work at a place and someone I know comes in to talk over something with me it is much different than starting a fight with a customer.

  6. mikeluisortega says:

    Im my mind the way this played out was, the employee was having a issue ringing up the items. The employee then told the customer to drive up for a total and the customer was being weird about not getting to see his total and said the N word; the employee got mad and took it outside. Should we punch people? No, do some people deserve to be punched? Yes

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      I assumed it was the N word as well. If that is indeed true, he deserved a bit more than a fist in the face. A foot in the groin would be a nice place to start.

    • Fair&Balanced says:

      The N word is used daily by many people, black and white.
      That is not a reason to attack someone over.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        Oh, but refusing to show some guy in the drive through the price on a screen warrants a customer beating the employee with a tire iron?

        Also, don’t bother saying “The N word” because it’s euphemistic crap. To paraphrase Louis CK: “When you say ‘The N-Word,’ you’re making me say ‘nigger’ in my head.”

    • baristabrawl says:

      I concur. Action approved.

  7. MamaBug says:

    On the legal note, yes – it’s all about liability. BK is not liable for what the employees do off the clock. Unless you’re trash talking them on Facebook. Then they can fire you.

    • frank64 says:

      Come on, punching out can’t change the liability. If the employee is there at a different time eating, than maybe, but you can’t just say he punched out right before he punched out. It was still an employee/customer relationship.

      If that were an issue it would put BK between a rock and a hard place. If they could claim that the guy was punched out so they are not liable, how could they fire him? I hope he is no longer working there.

      • MamaBug says:

        once he clocks out, he is not working. not working = not representing BK. BK is not paying for, so you can do whatever you want within the law. He was not within the law, hence the police charging him.
        And they could fire him for clocking out before end of shift – there are several ways to be fired.

        And I think more customers need to be punched – at least metaphorically.

        • MamaBug says:

          BK is not paying him, so he*

        • frank64 says:

          That policy wouldn’t make sense. The issue started when he was punched in, and it was a customer of the store. I would think even if an employee stopped in at work to get his paycheck he still wouldn’t be allowed to punch a customer. Wouldn’t that be the best policy?

          Besides most states are employee at will, you can actually fire someone because you decide one day you don’t like him. I think this might come under that category!

          You think a technicality can get one out of bad behavior and it can’t in this case.

          • hansolo247 says:

            by that logic, one could work at McDonalds, get insulted, then the employee on a day off could meet the person at WalMart the next month and beat the crap out of him.

            While the incident started while working, it ended while off.

            Really the same case here, although I won’t try to predict the outcome. The previous comment about “on schedule” would hold true even if the employee was sick and went home early.

            I’m not sure if there is any precedent to this exact circumstance. It’s an interesting one.

            • frank64 says:

              On company premises would have something to do with it too, Punching out does not give you the freedom to do what you want at work. A company should expect that an employee will not beat up the customers, punched in or out.

            • frank64 says:

              I don’t think punching out changes it one iota. You can’t punch out a customer. No technical BS or what if changes the facts. There probably is and will not be a precedent, because it so lacks any type of common sense.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          but did he change out of his BK uniform before hitting the customer?
          that actually came up in training when i worked at disney. i was in the experimental phase of letting employees be in charge of their own uniforms instead of changing at wardrobe and checking out a new one each day.
          policy stated that you don’t stop before or after your shift anywhere in uniform because it might be recognized as a disney uniform and anything you say or do could come back to bite the company in the butt later.

  8. jeff_the_snake says:

    I live about a half mile from this burger king and stopped going there because theyre such a mess. They’re literally incapable of preparing any order in under twenty minutes. Though oddly enough I did go last night but apparently I was too late for all the excitement

    • PunditGuy says:

      You have a slightly different definition of “stopped going there” than I do.

      • jeff_the_snake says:

        I stayed away for at least a year but got sick of the other 2 fast food joints on my way home.sadly their speed has not improved

  9. SlappyWhite says:

    This is what happens when you drop the “N” bomb.

  10. Tim says:

    Even if the employee could somehow argue that since he did it off the clock, he can’t get fired, the employer could just fire him for clocking out before his schedule shift was over.

    • frank64 says:

      Not if his manager actually punched him out.

      What about the manager? If he knew what the employee was up to and actually assisted by punching him out, wouldn’t he be a party by condoning it? Makes BK more liable than if the guy did it without punching out.

      • frank64 says:

        IF the manager knew that the employee was upset and punched him out so he could go to the customer(even to yell), then I think the manager will be fired too.

        • Griking says:

          The manager could have seen that he was upset and simply allowed him to punch out for a quick cigarette break to cool off. Managers aren’t mind readers and they couldn’t have known (at least it can’t be proven) that the associate was going to punch the person.

  11. coren says:

    wow, the commenters on that article are youtubesque

  12. Goldensummer says:

    Oddly enough I have asked whether I could clock out so that I could say what I really wanted to to a customer. I was stopped by management and my sense of self preservation. I still wish that I’d been able to say what I wanted to to that particular person.

  13. pantheonoutcast says:

    Please, please tell me the guy who got punched was the OP from yesterday’s Carl’s Junior article…

  14. XTC46 says:

    My managers would joke about this all the time at previous jobs. Going to chase a shoplifter? Clock out first. Want to hit a customer or another employee? Clock out first.

    Hell even at my current job, I wanted to deck one of my co-workers one night when we were all out. One of the major things that stopped me was I didnt want to cause an issue at work. I actually talked to my manager about it afterwards and he told me as long as we were both off the clock, there would not have been a reprecussion as far as work was concerned as long as it didnt affect my ability to do my job.

  15. Dmente says:

    If he had the Uniform on even if he off the clock he would loose his job, most companies that use a uniform have a Clause that you are representing the company while on uniform , that why Old Navy eliminated the uniforms a couple of years Back

  16. The Marionette says:

    Smart employee. I’ve always thought it would be a good idea to clock out before beating a customer, mainly so I have a job to come back to when I get out of jail.

  17. jayphat says:

    I had a friend do this years ago when we wroked for Wal-Mart, back when you had to clock out for breaks. He watched some guy beating the hell out of his kid in the store, hopped down off the ladder, walked to the back and clocked out, took off all his stuff that said Wal-Mart, and had a nice, long talk with the guy in the parking lot. And by nice, I mean loud. He was ready to go fists of fury if necessary but the guy backed down eventually.

  18. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    Normally, they just spit in your food or add extra protein.

  19. gman863 says:

    It doesn’t matter what deragatory term the customer used or if the employee was on the clock. You don’t get into heated arguments with customers, let alone assault them.

    This (soon-to-be-ex) BK employee committed assault. If BK keeps him, they are exposing themselves to a HUGE liability risk: If he went ballistic again and injured or killed someone while on BK property, it could be proven BK knew of his violent temper and therefore put customers at risk.

    The proper way to have handled this would have been for the employee to calmly walk away and tell the manager exactly what the customer said. At this point, the manager should inform the customer that, based on their racism, they are not welcome and should take their business elsewhere.

    • frank64 says:

      I am not sure it was racist. It was derogatory, but he the victim told police it wasn’t racist. He could of called him an asshole. I don’t know why it just expected that it was.

      • gman863 says:

        I assumed it was a racist comment based on the previous posts.

        No matter what type of comment it was, the employee should have turned the customer over to the manager instead of pretending he was a guest on Jerry Springer.

  20. DerangedHermit says:

    He called him a chicken.

  21. gonzaga707 says:

    Do you want fried with that?

  22. stint7 says:

    The guy ordering was probably the same douche that made a scene at Carl’s Jr. a few days ago.

    • catnapped says:

      Not unless he hopped on a plane to do it…no Carls Jr’s around here (we do have Hardees, sorta the sibling)

  23. TheFinalBoomer says:

    Damn, I really want to punch this guy in the face but I can’t lose this job…Wait! I got it!

  24. odarkshineo says:

    r-e-s-p-e-c-t. even for fast food workers.

  25. areaman says:

    Lt. Gary Seefeldt said the customer admitted to insulting White, but told police his comment was not racial in tone.

    Let’s see, you can’t print what the derogatory term is and at the same time you’re saying it’s not racial in tone. Why not just print it and let the readers decide? Because this guy is an asshole and will not own up. Also it’s shitty “reporting” for not stating in the piece why this guy will not repeat what he said to the BK worker or why PennLive will not print what was said.

    Sounds like this asshole is trying to split hairs. Probably used the N word and ended it with an “a” and not an “er” and is now trying to frame it like he was just minding his business when all of a sudden he was punched in the face.

    Will probably be flamed for saying this but I’m glad this guy got punched.