Yesterday was the funeral for Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man. Last month, Memphis police pulled over Mr. Nichols for allegedly reckless driving. But body camera footage captured five police officers beating Mr. Nichols following the stop. He later died. The five officers were charged with murder, and protests took place across the country.
The odds are that most of your employees have at least heard something about Mr. Nichols. Many of them have probably formed strong opinions about what happened. (If you’re unfamiliar with the story, you can read about it here.)
For example, the San Francisco Police Officers Association tweeted about a pizza store employee who supposedly told “several” SFPD officers that “they were not welcome in the restaurant.” The SFPOA added that they notified the restaurant owners of the “shameful and hateful actions” of one of their employees, after which the owner quickly apologized.
Sharon Song at KTVU FOX 2 in San Francisco reports here that the restaurant fired the employee.
What happened to Mr. Nichols is awful. Many have called for police reform, your employees among them.
But employees generally cannot use personal feelings to discern which customers their employers will do business with. Assuming all of this to be accurate, the pizza shop did the right thing by taking action against the employee who apparently refused to serve local police.
While I assume that most employees understand that they can’t let their opinion dictate the people with whom their employer does business, now is as good a time as any to remind your employees of this.
Where appropriate, consider instead promoting an internal dialogue on certain societal issues the like the ones highlighted by the tragedy of Tyre Nichols to address their impact on your workers. If your workers are feeling pain, your business may too. Listen to them, offer support, and show respect. But also reaffirm job-related expectations.
Fleshing out these issues can help avoid situations like those at the San Francisco pizza shop and offer a more productive, supportive outcome.