As tensions rise, retail stores have become tinderboxes ready to burst into conflict – with associates on the floor left at risk. 

Between 2018 and 2020, FBI records show a 42 percent increase in assaults nationwide, and a 63 percent increase in assaults in grocery stores. 

It’s a global issue with a uniquely American twist: 

In 2021, more than half of all active shooter attacks in the U.S. happened in “areas of commerce” – like retail stores and shopping malls.

The statistics speak for themselves:

Walmart is the deadliest place to grocery shop in America.

For the people powering Walmart’s profits, violence is a part of the job.

Between Jan. 1, 2020, and Nov. 22, 2022 – the day a gunman opened fire on Walmart associates in Chesapeake, Virginia –  there were at least 363 gun incidents and 112 gun deaths at Walmart, according to Guns Down America. Before that, in 2019, the Walmart community and our country at large was devastated by the loss of 23 lives during a mass shooting at a store in El Paso, Texas – a racist attack that continues to haunt us today.

Walmart has failed to protect us.

Colleagues of the Nov. 2022 gunman – a Walmart supervisor – had previously warned the company about his odd behavior, but were ignored. The consequences were deadly. 

As the largest private employer in the United States, Walmart’s workplace safety policies set standards for other retailers. What if they chose to set the bar high? 

Associates are calling for action. Cynthia Murray – a Walmart associate of more than 20 years – submitted a shareholder resolution requesting an evaluation of current policies that are contributing to the problem, as well as recommendations to make Walmart a safer place to work and shop. 

“Every person deserves to be safe at work, and every employer has an obligation to implement reasonable safety measures to protect their employees and in turn, our customers, from harm. This is especially true in public-facing policies that come with obvious risks – exposure to illness, violence, physical and mental stress.” 

– Cynthia Murray
Walmart Associate and United for Respect Founder


At Amazon Warehouses, the threat comes from within.

At a warehouse in Joliet, IL, racist death threats decorated the bathroom walls. When Black associates asked management for help, they were told they could go home without pay.

From Arizona to Mississippi, Amazon warehouse associates have lost their lives at the hands of coworkers.

These are the consequences of workers being pushed to the brink and left unprotected.

At Amazon, associates have sought a voice on the job to share issues around health safety, turnover, scheduling, and wages. But rather than meeting with, and listening to, workers, Amazon has responded with intimidation and even termination. 

Last year, a U.S. district judge even ruled that Amazon had retaliated against workers for organizing their warehouse.

Left unaddressed, the stress and pressure that comes with the high-tech sweatshop’s absurdly high productivity quotas sparks arguments and even physical fights between warehouse workers.


Retail associates have recommendations on how corporations can reduce workplace conflict and help keep them safe:

  • Don’t wait for a problem. Invest in preventative measures like team building, de-escalation, and conflict resolution trainings, which can prevent conflicts from arising in the first place.
  • Don’t overstress associates. Ensure healthy workplaces by not understaffing and not holding employees to unrealistic and unsafe productivity metrics. 
  • Create a culture of openness, trust, and respect that can foster constructive conflict resolution and improve workplace relationships.
  • Make sure we have the time we need to take care of ourselves. Physical and mental health benefits, and PTO so workers can take off when they need to, easing animosity and workplace hostility.
  • And most importantly, listen to workers. As the eyes and ears on the floor, retail associates know what’s a problem – and what causes conflict. Encourage management to listen to worker concerns, meet with worker committees, and take worker input on safety practices seriously.