What Are Laws on Verbal Abuse From Customers?


A person who serves customers as part of his job will often encounter verbal harassment from some of the people he serves. In many cases, this abuse may be frightening, humiliating and enraging. However, only in a few cases is this verbal abuse against the law. That said, although a person's actions toward a customer service representative may not constitute a violation of the law, the representative does not need to serve the person.

Verbal Abuse

  • The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides individual's the right to freedom of speech. This means that a person has a right to use language that is profane, hostile and even frightening without fear of being arrested. This means that a person is allowed to be verbally abusive to a person who works for a company without violating a law, except in certain cases.


  • However, although a company may not be allowed to report a verbally abusive customer to the police, it does not have to serve a verbally abusive customer. Most businesses have the right to provide or withhold service to customers at their discretion. So long as the refusal to provide service is not based on a form of discrimination -- say, refusing service to a person because of his race -- it is legal.


  • However, there are a number of laws that do restrict people's ability to use threatening language. While there are no federal laws that prevent people from using threatening language -- at least toward private citizens -- many states have laws that prevent people from making threats. So, if a verbally abusive customer threatens injury to a representative of a company, then the person may be violating the law, based on the state's laws.


  • A company may be able to prevent verbal abuse from customers in a number of ways. For example, a company that wishes to refuse service to a customer may be allowed to order a customer to leave its premises. If the customer fails to do so, then the company may be allowed to charge the person with trespassing, depending on where the incident is taking place.


Promoted By Zergnet


You May Also Like

  • How to End Verbal Abuse

    Verbal abuse is hostile language directed toward others that is purposely meant to hurt the recipient. Verbal abuse can be injurious, humiliating...

  • Laws for Verbal Abuse in the Workplace

    Laws for Verbal Abuse in the Workplace. When one person yells at another, calls her names or continually accuses her of incompetence,...

  • What Is Verbal Abuse in the Workplace?

    Verbal abuse in the workplace is an illegal act that violates federal employment law. Employers who engage in this behavior attack their...

  • Disciplinary Policies & Procedures

    Disciplinary Policies & Procedures. Human Resources (HR) departments across the country are responsible for overseeing and ensuring employment policies. These ...

  • Laws Governing Confidentiality of Substance Abuse Treatment

    Medical doctors and mental health professionals are bound by confidentiality laws. Substance abuse treatment often involves not only mental health but medical...

  • Dealing With Abusive Customers

    Learn how to deal with abusive customers with expert retail sales management advice in this free online customer service video clip.

  • How to Prove Verbal Abuse

    Whether it occurs within the workplace or in marriage, verbal abuse can be difficult to prove. Verbal abuse leaves no physical evidence...

  • What Constitutes a Verbally Abusive Husband?

    Abuse and domestic violence take many forms. Physical battery is a common feature in abusive relationships. Verbal abuse by a husband is...

  • Documenting Everything in Customer Service

    Learn why it's important to document everything when dealing with customers with expert retail sales management advice in this free online customer...

  • Employee Rights Against Verbal Abuse

    Verbal abuse can contribute to a hostile work environment and be punishable by law. Employers are responsible for their own speech and...

  • Examples of Good Customer Service

    Examples of Good Customer Service. Part of the series: Abusive Customers: Customer Service Training. Learn the do's of good customer service and...

Related Searches

Read Article

Are You Really Getting A Deal From Discount Stores?

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!