Kaleden businessman asks for feedback on handling anti-maskers after employee is verbally abused

Verbal abuse over masks

A small business owner in Kaleden is asking for public feedback on how to handle anti-maskers in his store after he says a customer verbally abused and threw racial slurs at his employee on Wednesday evening.

Kaleden Petro Canada owner JB Bansoota says he has seen a number of shoppers come in refusing to comply with the new provincial order of mandatory use of masks, with many getting upset at the staff. 

“We are getting lots of customers who don't want to wear the mask when they come in and usually we'll tell them that they have to wear it and they get mad. They say something to the employees and then they leave," Bansoota said.

But after an incident that took place that went beyond the usual frustration, Bansoota wanted to take action. 

“This girl came in and my employer asked her to wear one, that she needed a mask and she said that she doesn't have a mask. And my employer said ‘You know it's a rule that you need a mask’ and then she said 'Oh actually, I have a medical condition so I cannot wear a mask.”

Bansoota’s employee called him for help with the situation and handed the phone to the customer. 

“So she told me that she cannot wear the mask and I was like ‘Do you have anything to show us because people are making all kinds of excuses not to wear masks,'” Bansoota explained. 

“I can get fined if you're not wearing a mask. She started threatening me that she's going to file a lawsuit against me. I said 'Do whatever you want to do, that's fine but we cannot serve you without a mask.'” 

After hanging up the phone, Bansoota alleges that she further verbally abused his employee.

"She said 'F*** you', this and that, as she was leaving she saying racial stuff like 'F*****g immigrant' and 'You don't know anything.'"

After his employee called him back and told him about the situation escalating, Bansoota got upset.

“It's just a mental and emotional thing for the employee to go through all of this. I'm not there at the till, they're the floor people taking all the hate from people, which is not good.”

“Then I posted it on Facebook because I just want to make sure I'm not doing anything wrong so I just wanted to see what people think about all this stuff.” 

He said that most of the responses so far have been very supportive of wearing and enforcing the masks. 

“I just wanted to make sure I wasn't doing something wrong by asking people to. It's so hard to understand the law or rule,” he said, adding that the information he's finding on the BC health website is unclear as to how a business can or should request proof of legitimate health reasons for not wearing a mask.

“If you don't want to wear masks, we respect that but they need to respect our rules also and obey the rules to come to the public place that's put out by the provincial government,” Bansoota said. “I think it's just an ego thing, people are trying to prove a point to the government and they are taking it out on our businesses to do that.”

Bansoota says he has not reported the incident to the RCMP, but shared the story and surveillance picture  on their Facebook page in order to get feedback from his community.

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