According to findings from the 2013 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, violence accounted for one out of every six fatal work injuries in 2013. Between 1992 and 2012, over 700 homicides a year occurred in workplaces.
Restaurants and retail establishments hold elevated risks of workplace violence. According to 2010 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, three of the 34 youth workers who died that year succumbed to assaults or violent acts. If you include 18- and 19-year-olds, 15 of the 90 workers between the ages of 16 and 19 who died at work in 2010 perished from violent acts.
- In March 2016, a man eating in a Church’s Chicken restaurant in Philadelphia became enraged, left, and returned a short time later with a gun and shot a 19-year-old worker three times.
- 19-year-old Peter Meilke was gunned down while working in a pizza place in Bellaire, Texas in February 2016. Police said that Meilke appeared to comply with the robbers demands but they shot him anyway.
- In April 2012, a 16-year-old, Mokbel Mohamed “Sam” Almujanhi, in Farmville, North Carolina was shot to death during the robbery of a convenience store. Almujanhi worked for his father who owned the store, where two other men were also murdered by the robbers.
- In January 2010, an Illinois teenager was beaten and sexually assaulted after being abducted from the sandwich shop where she worked alone at night. In some inner cities, young fast-food workers have reported routinely having to deal with gang members who come in to harass and rob them.
- In June 2011, 17-year-old pharmacy clerk Jennifer Meija was shot and killed alongside three other employees inside the Medford, New York pharmacy where she worked. Meija was just days from her high school graduation. Police reports said that the suspect in the shooting was trying to steal prescription drugs.
A 2009 survey conducted by Dr. Kimberly Rauscher of the Injury Prevention Research Center at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill)—a member of the Child Labor Coalition—found that 10 percent of high school students surveyed had been physically attacked, another 10 percent had experienced sexual harassment, and one in four said they had been threatened while at work.
Given the dangers associated with working at night, NCL believes that teen workers should not be asked to work alone at night. Employers should discuss security procedures with employees in detail. The Illinois teen who was abducted had become aware that a suspicious person was watching her but did not call the police. She texted her concerns to her boyfriend, who rushed to the workplace. He arrived too late to prevent the abduction.
States that are considering weakening their child labor laws by allowing youth to work past 10 p.m. should be dissuaded by the additional risk of workplace violence these young workers will be exposed to.