McNeill: Frontline workers need more protections

Legislation would make attacks on retail, restaurant workers ‘aggravated assault’

HARRISBURG, March 11 – State Rep. Jeanne McNeill, D-Lehigh, has authored legislation aimed at protecting people working in the retail and hospitality industries who have faced increased threats and physical violence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

McNeill explained that her legislation would classify assault against a retail or restaurant worker who is enforcing a public health directive as aggravated assault; the goal is a reduction in the number of employees violently attacked simply for doing their job.

“These frontline employees, especially those in the retail and hospitality industries, are the ones who are tasked with enforcing mask mandates and social distancing rules,” McNeill said. “They didn’t make these rules and yet they are the ones who are constantly challenged, chastised and physically attacked. While we have a right to disagree with public policy, we don’t have a right to inflict harm on another simply because we disagree -- no one should be threatened or harmed for simply enforcing a public health directive.

“This isn’t about taking away someone’s rights to voice or have an opinion,” McNeill said. “It isn’t about ‘if masks work’ or don’t. This legislation is about doing more to protect our frontline workers who have put their health and safety at risk every day for more than a year. It’s time to step up as a legislature to stop the abuse and protect those who have helped us all throughout this pandemic.”