Customer and Employee Incivility and its Causal Effects in the Hospitality Industry

Edwin Torres, University of Central Florida
Mathilda van Niekerk, University of Central Florida
Marissa Orlowski, University of Central Florida


The present research sought to understand customer and employee incivility in the hospitality industry. The study identified customer actions that are perceived as uncivil by employees and coping strategies used by employees after experiencing uncivil behavior. Finally, service-recovery situations are differentiated from security-related incidents and guidance is offered to hospitality managers regarding the minimization of customer incivility. An empirical survey was distributed to 297 hotel employees. Regression analysis indicated that the effects of customer incivility were an increase in: customer aggression, employee negative emotions, employee-to-customer incivility, employee-to-employee incivility, and employee sensitivity to uncivil acts. The effects of employee-to-employee incivility were increased customer aggression and negative emotions, but decreased sensitivity to uncivil acts. Uncivil behaviors by customers included insulting comments, anger, frustration, verbal attacks, and condescending behavior. The identification of uncivil behaviors and their effects can assist in training staff in identifying and managing such actions and in devising mitigation strategies.