The customer is always right, yeah right!
A woman trespassed from Otaki New World after an altercation with a staff member is taking legal action against the store. More than $3000 has been raised on-line to cover the costs.
The customer was removed from the store and subsequently banned for two years after a staff member took exception to the customer’s t-shirt that stated: “Men are not women, even if you squint.”
The Women’s Rights Party says this is an example of how gender critical views are being silenced; aided and abetted by mainstream media.
In an article last week, the Post (formerly known as the Dominion Post and part of the Stuff stable which owns a sizable slice of New Zealand media) quotes a spokesperson for Foodstuffs, which operates New World, stating that the woman had been “making comments over a period of time and the ongoing behaviour was making staff feel uncomfortable and unsafe in their workplace.”
The story does not mention that the customer denies any ongoing harassment of New World staff and says the incident was triggered by the staff member throwing the Lotto tickets at the customer, which she had bought.
In the ensuing argument the staff member, a trans-identifying man, said he found the customer’s t-shirt to be offensive, and she says he was shouting at her before the store manager physically removed her from the store.
The Women’s Rights Party says the customer should challenge the Post for its one-sided, biased, and possibly defamatory coverage of the incident.
The Post based its story on an email circulating on X (formerly Twitter) and dismisses the woman’s version of the events contained in the email, as ‘misinformation’. Women’s Rights Party co-leader Jill Ovens says the Post could at least have contacted the woman for her version of the events and included this as balance.
The Women’s Rights Party understands that the letter sent by the customer to the New World manager explaining what had happened from her point of view, and clearly labelled as ‘Private and Confidential’, had found its way onto social media.
“That the mainstream media is so willing to accept material circulating on social media as fair game to be reported, and to dismiss it as ‘misinformation’, without contacting the other party is disturbing,” says Ms Ovens, a former AUT journalism senior lecturer.
“Although the Media Council has ruled that stories do not need to be balanced if the overall coverage is balanced, this begs the question as to when the customer will get a fair right of reply?”
Ms Ovens says a bigger question is whether it Is acceptable for New World to refuse service to customers wearing a t-shirt with a political message that staff might find offensive and might make them feel ‘unsafe’.
The Human Rights Act 1993 s44 prohibits the refusal or failure to provide goods or services, or to treat anyone less favourably in connection with the provision of goods, facilities, or services, in relation to any of the prohibited grounds of discrimination, which includes political opinion (s21 (j)).
New Zealand law also protects citizen’s rights to express our political opinions under s13 and s14 of the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990.
Ms Ovens is a regular customer of New World in Waiuku and frequently wears t-shirts with political messages.
“Am I safe to wear my t-shirts when shopping for my groceries? Do I risk rude behaviour from staff and physical removal by the store manager? These are questions I and many others would like answered before we venture again into a New World store.”