Franchise fracas | Pastor husband of McDonald's employee arrested after "appalling" attack on colleague

Pastor husband of McDonald's employee arrested after

A workplace conflict at a McDonald’s in High Point, NC, ended with a pastor being arrested on 28 December for allegedly attacking his wife’s co-worker over accusations of disrespect.

According to a police report on the franchise fracas, pastor Dwayne Waden, 57, purportedly threatened to shove a cook’s head in a deep fat fryer after punching him several times in the face.

Employees intervened to pull Waden away from the cook, who, per the police report, "suffered a large contusion to the forehead and right eye, along with scratches on his neck."

His wife, a manager-in-training at McDonald’s, had called Waden to complain that her colleagues were “disrespecting” her.

McDonald’s has issued a statement on behalf of the owner of the High Point franchise:

“The safety and security of our employees and customers is our top priority, and I was appalled by this act of violence in my restaurant last week. Law enforcement was called immediately when this incident occurred, and we will continue to cooperate with the authorities on this matter.”

The police confirmed that they were able to see video footage of the incident from a surveillance video.

Emergency services also attended the scene at the High Point franchise, though the McDonald’s employee elected to travel to a nearby hospital with a family member.

A police report confirmed Waden will face charges of assault when he appears in court on January 22nd and has been released after posting bail of $1,000. Waden's wife no longer works as a manager-in-training at the McDonald's in question.

Is workplace conflict commonplace?

Research from Zipdo (2023) indicates that 85% of employees have experienced some type of workplace conflict to some extent. 27% have witnessed conflicts that have escalated to personal attacks.

Workplace conflicts such as Waden’s alleged assault on his wife’s colleague present an eyewatering cost to organizations in the U.S.

Historic research from the CPP estimates employees in U.S. companies spend approximately 2.8 hours each week in conflict. This scales up to roughly $359 billion in labor costs for hours that center on conflict rather than productivity.

Conflict can stem from a vast array of workplace disputes. In some cases, this can be a personal conflict such as the ‘disrespect’ cited by Waden’s wife.

In other cases, it may be professional disagreements including culture clashes. Tesla employees in Sweden, for example, walked out on strike on 27 October 2023, claiming they had been subjected to a “typical U.S. model” of work rather than “The Swedish Model.”

Furthermore, workplace conflicts based on political disagreements are also increasingly common. From issues such as the war in Israel and Gaza to divisive topics like DE&I and ESG, contentious topics have found their way into work conversations from pre-meeting catch-ups to watercooler chats. All too often these discussions quickly spiral into frustration, anger, and resentment.

Conflict can also arise between employees and customers. Earlier in December 2023, an enraged Chipotle customer, Rosemary Hayne, threw a hot bowl of food in the face of an employee, Emily Russel. Hayne was eventually offered the choice to work in a fast-food restaurant for two months rather than serve a jail sentence, which she took. HR Grapevine has previously discussed the lessons in empathy and conflict resolution that can be learned from the outcome of the Chipotle case.

Wherever it arises, HR has an increasingly large role to play in mitigating conflict in the workplace before flashpoints such as physical altercations occur. Careful and cautious intervention can prevent conflict from escalating into physical violence, employees becoming disengaged, and even employees leaving the organization.

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