Is It Illegal to Cuss Out A Fast Food Employee in Texas?
Service workers don't get enough credit. Many of them work hard to support their families, doing their best. Some of them are using the money they earn to better their education. Some actually enjoy serving others in a fast-paced environment.
Dealing with the public can be challenging and rewarding. Thanks to some segments of the public, it can also be atrocious.
There are a number of books and articles on the internet about how civility is breaking down in America. People just aren't as nice to each other as they used to be. There are articles speculating about a new civil war and escalating violence.
According to a 2010 study of more than 1000 U.S. adults conducted by Weber Sandwick and Powell Tate in partnership with KRC Research, most Americans view the breakdown of civility as a major problem. 65% of people in that study say the breakdown of civility in America is a "major problem."
Ask anyone who routinely works with the public in their job, and they will agree.
Even so, no specific laws in Texas make it illegal to use profanity or "cuss out" a fast food or other service worker.
That doesn't mean being rude or abusive to a service worker in our state or anywhere else is totally free of consequences. According to the Texas Penal Code, it is clear that certain behaviors, including the use of abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, can be illegal.
Texas Penal Code Title 9, Under Section 42.01 (a)(1), makes it clear that cussing out a service worker, even if you feel their incompetence warrants reproach, tends to incite an immediate "breach of the peace." That can get you charged with disorderly conduct.
You could be charged with disorderly conduct even if you don't say a word. Flipping the bird could get you such a charge.
Disorderly conduct charges are generally classified as a Class C misdemeanor unless it falls under certain "special circumstances." Those include displaying a firearm or other deadly weapon in a manner calculated to harm. The charge can be elevated to a Class B misdemeanor in such cases.
In Texas, the statutory punishments for a Class B Misdemeanor include:
- Confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days
- Fine not to exceed $2,000, or both jail time and a fine.
For a Class C misdemeanor, the punishment is a fine not to exceed $500. Still, paying $500 because you can't control yourself in public is a huge price. Acting ugly in public can have other consequences also in an age when everyone has a mobile phone with a video camera.
If your abusive behavior goes viral, you could lose your job, or your business could suffer huge consequences.
Human beings are flawed. Sometimes a service or fast food worker makes a mistake. I'll bet you make mistakes on your job also.
It's time we all reacquaint ourselves with the basics of civil behavior. Treat everyone with kindness and respect. Otherwise, you might not like the consequences.