General Question

netspencer's avatar

Can you be sent out of a store for swearing?

Asked by netspencer (149points) May 26th, 2009

Today, I was at CVS pharmacy and I overheard an older woman talking with a male employee in the photo-development section. She was incredibly mad because she had spent 4 hours cropping her pictures which she had been promised were saved to a CD. However, she had taken the CD home to find those pictures not there.

She took the CD back to CVS and begun to talk to the man. He wasn’t the same person as the woman who had promised her that the cropped images would be on the CD but he was the only person there at the time.

Anyway, out of anger she said “Why are you giving me $#!+ ?” and the man working at CVS got rather upset. He said, “miss, are you aware I can send you out of here for swearing; I can just ask to you leave?”.

Well, my question is: is this true? Is it really legal for him to send her out of the store just for the words that she has said? I would understand if she had said something hurtful such as a racial or deragatory remark. However, crude choice of vocabulary shouldn’t be the deciding factor of one’s right to freely shop in a store.

What exactly does the law say about this?

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26 Answers

AstroChuck's avatar

It’s a private business. Sure, why not?

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

The short answer is yes.

A store has the right to refuse service to anyone. If a customer is being abusive, they can ask the customer to leave. If the customer does not think the service is satisfactory, they are also free to shop elsewhere.

Tink's avatar

Yes because they have a right to do that even if people didn’t or did curse

Bluefreedom's avatar

I’ve seen a lot of establishments with the sign “we have the right to refuse service to anyone”. I would imagine that these same businesses and others also have the right to remove someone who is using profane language or otherwise causing unwanted disturbances. Like @AstroChuck already said, they’re private businesses and they can do what they want.

Aethelwine's avatar

I don’t know about the law but I was ready to kick this woman’s girl’s a$# the other day when she was walking around Kroger letting the f bomb drop every 2 seconds when I had my daughter by my side.

netspencer's avatar

Well, my point is that I don’t think choice of language constitutes someone as being abusive. What if she said “why are you lying to me?” That has the same meaning, only with different words. How could one be abusive and not the other.

The fact that it’s a private business and they could essentially refuse service to any customers—regardless of cause—is a good point.

I just don’t think this is fair. There has to be a law protecting the consumer in this situation in some way. CVS is a drug store which sells items which are very important. For example, if a customer is sent out of CVS while buying tooth paste, they wouldn’t have any tooth paste. While, they could go to other stores—like Walgreens—these stores are also private and could do the same thing. Ultimately, the person would then have no tooth paste which is a threat to their health…

Bluefreedom's avatar

@jonsblond. I would have paid good money to see you pile drive her in one of the aisles.

netspencer's avatar

But, what separates harsh language choice for inappropriate distractions? I don’t think she was being a distraction in this case. In @jonsblond example, that lady was obviously being inappropriate.

hug_of_war's avatar

It doesn’t matter what you think, it’s the store’s descretion

Bluefreedom's avatar

@netspencer. It would be up to that customer to adjust their behavior accordingly to the standards of what is expected as ‘civil’ inside of a store or on private property or many other places for that matter. Retailers and businesses aren’t babysitters and customers should act more maturely, or learn to, even when they’re upset about something.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Bluefreedom I was so ready. And I needed the money!

Dansedescygnes's avatar

I liked that time I went to a thrift shop and a woman there was angry and swearing and the man working there was also angry and swearing…I thought there was going to be fight, but it ended soon enough. No one was thrown out, surprisingly.

Randy's avatar

Think of swearing as disturbing the other customers. Other customers could hear the cursing and decide that they no longer want to shop at the store which would cause the company to lose business of one or several customers. Most stores can “throw you out” for just about anything they want to.

steve6's avatar

You can be arrested.

Jeruba's avatar

Honestly, @netspencer, tell me if you really think that a poor, desperate, health-threatened person who is in dire need of toothpaste for the sake of survival and has absolutely none left at home couldn’t manage to watch his language and keep the profanity and vulgarity down long enough to carry out a small transaction in a CVS store.

I assure you that it is quite possible to do a lot of business in a store without opening your mouth and saying a single word.

mrwhoopie's avatar

Of course! It is private property. The store does not have to serve you if it elects not to.What if a person were cussing loudly in a McDonalds playgroud? Should they be allowed to stay?

dynamicduo's avatar

Of course it’s true. Stores are private property, thus they are free to set and uphold whatever rules they want to. They could throw out anyone with an afro, or anyone wearing pink sneakers, or anyone with glasses.

As for why they would see swearing as offensive enough to throw someone out, it all has to do with what the mainstream accepts. Swearing is not acceptable in mainstream society yet, thus it’s a bannin’. However, consider a place like Hot Topic, I would imagine they would be much more open to swearing.

jrpowell's avatar

And cursing can lead to an escalation. Best to nip it in the bud early. I have been grabbed and hit a few times by customers at work. Usually it began with them cursing me out.

cak's avatar

If I was making the judgement call, I would have asked her to calm down and not to swear – considering customers and the fact that it would probably escalate. If she continued, yep…out she goes. Employees do not have to take crap from abusive (verbally or physically) customers. They also have to consider the safety of their other customers. How difficult is it to communicate without swearing?

@jonsblond I’ve encountered that before and said something. I thanked her (dripping with sarcasm) for the colorful vocabulary education she had extended to my 3rd old son. I asked her what time we could meet up next week while I showed her how ticked off parent’s handled ignorant teens like her. She shut it and moved on.

Supacase's avatar

Sure they can. No business or employee has to put up with that. I worked tech support for a while and if a customer was swearing at us, we could ask them to stop; if they didn’t it was the one time we were allowed to terminate the call on our end.

There is a different attitude displayed with “Why are you giving me S$!@” than with “Why are you giving me a hard time?” You are correct that the version without swearing means the same thing. It is also less confrontational and likely to be more effective.

SirBailey's avatar

I think the issue here was not so much the use of the swear word but the fact that the woman was yelling. Even if the woman was NOT using a swearword, the fact that she was yelling would disturb customers and staff and scare them. At that point, management could ASK her to leave. If she refused, management would have to call police. Can you imagine what THIS would do to business?

HOWEVER, I DO know a couple who purposely went into a furniture store that was giving them a run-around with an expensive purchase they made that came damaged. Once there, they deliberately yelled in the store to make other customers hear the bad things the store had done. They weren’t thrown out. Instead, they got what they wanted.

knitfroggy's avatar

I’m not sure what the law says about it, but at the store I work in our policy is written that there can be no cursing. I’ve had people swear at me numerous times and I tell them if you cuss at me again, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. If they do it again, I tell them they got to go and if they don’t leave, usually they won’t because they are pissed off, I call management who comes to handle it. The tell the people that there are small children around and people who don’t want to hear their cursing. I don’t know that the police have ever been called, but it’s been threatened.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@SirBailey: That’s why many stores have security guards.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I got thrown out of a store before for jokelying calling my friend an asshole when i was younger. The stupidity of it all was i was in spencers…. the family friendly porn shop….

cak's avatar

@uberbatman—Lurve for: “the family friendly porn shop.”

Csmooth731's avatar

It’s strange that the person asking the question is only concerned about the customer. What about the employee? Do they deserve to be talked to any way because she is mad? What if someone talked to your mom and kids that way, will it be alright? There are ways to handle these situations, and asking like that is not acceptable.

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