News, Culture & Society

Bunnings CEO hits back at woman who belittled staff at a Melbourne store when asked to wear a mask

The boss of Bunnings has hit back at a woman who berated workers at one of their Melbourne stores after she was asked to wear a face mask. 

In the viral video the woman filmed herself lecturing staff and telling them it is illegal to request customers follow the store’s mask policy, even after they had offered her one to wear.

Rob Scott, CEO of Wesfarmers, which owns Bunnings, responded to the video on Twitter saying he stood behind his employees.  

The woman was removed from handcuffs after presenting a medical exemption, but then began debating with officers (pictured) about how the arrest was ‘unlawful’

The CEO of Wesfarmers, which owns Bunnings, Rob Scott has responded to the video on Twitter saying he stood behind his employees as did former first lady Lucy Turnbull

The CEO of Wesfarmers, which owns Bunnings, Rob Scott has responded to the video on Twitter saying he stood behind his employees as did former first lady Lucy Turnbull 

‘Very proud of the Bunnings team for doing their best to keep people safe. Also great to see 99%+ of the public doing the right thing. Thank you,’ Mr Scott said. 

Mr Scott was responding to a tweet from former federal treasurer Chris Bowen who also commended the workers for calmly dealing with the aggressive woman. 

‘A big shout out to these Bunnings employees and all the others quietly and calmly doing their bit to protect public health in the face of selfish, aggressive and inappropriate behaviour by a very small number of people.’ Mr Bowen said. 

The hardware franchise introduced a rule last week that shoppers in the lockdown areas of Melbourne and Mitchell Shire would need to wear masks in their stores or be refused entry. 

Bunnings staff have even been told to hand out the masks as a courtesy to customers who arrive at the store without the item. 

The rule follows the Victorian government on Thursday introducing $200 fines for those people who refuse to wear masks in public in COVID-19 hotspots.  

The bizarre outburst, which is believed to have occurred at a Bunnings in Melbourne, began after an employee (pictured) told the woman she was required to wear a mask in store

The woman was then directed to the store's manager (pictured) who told the hostile shopper it was the store's policy that customers wear face masks

The bizarre outburst, which is believed to have occurred at a Bunnings in Melbourne, began after an employee (pictured) told the woman she was required to wear a mask in store

Wesfarmers CEO Rob Scott said he stood behind the Bunnings workers in the video

Wesfarmers CEO Rob Scott said he stood behind the Bunnings workers in the video 

Videos have since surfaced someone, believed to be the same woman, arguing with police in the carpark outside the store before being arrested.  

Bunnings chief operating officer Deb Poole also spoke out saying the woman’s behavior was unacceptable. 

‘The customer’s behaviour towards our team was completely unacceptable and we’re proud of the way our team calmly and professionally handled the situation,’ she told 7 News.

‘The vast majority of customers visiting our Melbourne stores are doing the right thing and wearing a mask, which is required under the law and our conditions of entry.’ 

The video also drew the attention of other officials with Australia’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth who said wearing the masks was ‘not an enormous ask’. 

‘I would like to commend the staff member and the staff in Bunnings and I’m sorry they had to deal with that,’ he told the ABC. 

‘It is not a human rights issue to decide not to wear a mask. It is simple. We know it’s effective.’ 

The video even drew the attention of former first lady Lucy Turnbull, wife of Malcolm Turnbull, who commended the workers ‘grace under pressure’. 

The outburst is believe to have occurred at the Narre Warren Bunnings store in Melbourne’s south east on Friday, a day after the state government made face masks mandatory for residents in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire while out in public. 

The video of the extraordinary rant was posted on Facebook on Sunday as Victoria recorded 459 new coronavirus cases and ten deaths, prompting Daniel Andrews to slam a disturbing wave of ‘selfish’ residents who are refusing to wear masks.  

The footage began with the woman filming as she briskly walks through the store while an employee can be heard tailing behind her. 

Another video posted on Facebook shows the woman later being arrested by two police officers outside in the Lauderdale Road car park (pictured)

‘Excuse me,’ the worker called out, trying to get her attention.

‘Excuse me, you need a mask on.’

The woman turned around and stormed toward the Bunnings staff member. 

‘I beg your pardon?’ she said in hostile manner, drawing the camera up towards the employee’s face.

‘It’s alright,’ the worker said calmly, trying to diffuse the situation.

‘I was just asking if you have a mask.’

The woman retorted: ‘Well it is clear I don’t, and you are not authorised to ask me or question me about it.’

The worker asked the woman if she would like to discuss the issue with her manager, before guiding her to speak with her boss.

When the manager informed the woman she must have a medical certificate to be permitted in the store without a mask, the woman unleashed a tirade about how the store’s policy is illegal and she is being discriminated against.

‘Actually I don’t need a medical certificate,’ she said, as the manager politely requested she stops filming.

VICTORIA’S COVID-19 NUMBERS FOR JULY 26 

 * 459 new cases, and the 21st consecutive day of a triple-digit increase, taking active cases across the state to 4233.

* Ten more deaths, bringing the state’s toll to 71 and the national figure to 155.

* Their ages range from a man in his 40s to men and women in their 80s.

* Seven of the deaths have been linked to aged care outbreaks.

* 560 active cases in aged care centres.

* 381 active cases among health care workers.

* 228 people in hospital and with 42 in intensive care.

* 42,973 tests conducted on Saturday.

‘No. I am allowed to do this and your discriminating against me.’

‘We are not discriminating against you, we are just all trying to be in this together,’ the manager replied. ‘And we all just need to wear a mask.’

‘All in what together? You are not authorised by the Australian government to even question me about it,’ she claimed.

A male member of staff chimed in to tell the woman it is a condition of entry to their store, prompting the woman to bizarrely claim the company’s rule is sexist.

‘Well then that is discrimination and I can have you sued personally for discriminating against me as a woman,’ she said.

‘We are not discriminating against anyone, it is a condition of entry to all Bunnings store, we require everyone to wear a mask,’ he said.

‘You are,’ she continued, ‘it is an unlawful condition of entry.’

‘Therefore that exposes you personally and Bunnings to being sued for discrimination because it is in breach of the 1948 Charter of Human rights to discriminate men and women.’

The male employee then calmly asked her to stop filming multiple times, all of which she refuses, citing the necessity of the recording as vital evidence of the ‘discrimination’ against her.

The woman then told the man she will be proceed to shop in the store and there is nothing they could do to stop her because the regulation is ‘illegal’. 

Other videos posted on Facebook show the woman later being arrested by two police officers outside in the Lauderdale Road car park.

After being handcuffed, the woman handed over a medical certificate to show she has an exemption from wearing a face mask. 

A male employee (pictured) chimed in to reiterate the regulation when the woman refused to listen to the manager's instructions, but the aggressive customer began accusing the staff of 'discrimination' against her as a woman and threatening to sue them and the hardware chain

A male employee (pictured) chimed in to reiterate the regulation when the woman refused to listen to the manager’s instructions, but the aggressive customer began accusing the staff of ‘discrimination’ against her as a woman and threatening to sue them and the hardware chain

When more officers arrived at the scene, the woman had her handcuffs taken off but launched into a debate with officers as to why her arrest was unlawful. 

She claimed legislation in place allowing police to arrest her was not voted upon by Australians or approved by the monarch. 

‘You’re talking about legislation that hasn’t been presented to parliament three times, we the people haven’t given our consent to act under it, and it hasn’t been consented by the queen,’ she said.

‘That legislation is fraudulent. It doesn’t apply to me.’ 

‘Legislation and acts can’t apply to living humans. They only apply to dead people.’

Growing impatient, the sergeant said he was not going to argue over her ‘opinion’ about the law. 

‘That’s your personal belief, but that is not the law we work under,’ he said.

‘I am not going enter into an argument about what you believe the law is. That is a conversation between you and the judicial system.’

Police told the woman she is free to leave, and she asked for each officer’s details before they departed.

Bunnings announced earlier in the week that face masks would be required for customers in the Melbourne and Mitchell Shire stores as Victoria battles to contain a horror second wave of COVID-19.

The regulation coincided with the state government’s order that made masks mandatory for residents in those areas to wear while in a public places from Thursday. 

Rick Sarre, the Adjunct Professor of Law and Criminal Justice at the University of South Australia, says Australian businesses have the right to require customers to wear face masks.

‘Australian law, quite simply, says that private landowners or occupiers can take reasonable steps to protect themselves, their employees and people on their property,’ he wrote in The Conversation.

‘So it would be legal for businesses – including cafes and supermarkets – to make it a condition of entry that customers wear a mask and sanitise their hands.’ 

In a video posted to Facebook on Saturday, the officers told the irate woman she was committing a crime but she threatened to sue them for 'armed kidnapping' if they attempted to arrest her

In a video posted to Facebook on Saturday, the officers told the irate woman she was committing a crime but she threatened to sue them for ‘armed kidnapping’ if they attempted to arrest her

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had a scathing message for residents wasting police resources by debating about face masks. 

‘If it was a genuine error, a sense of any confusion – police use good judgement,’ he said.

‘They are trying to be fair as they possibly can be, but if you are just making a selfish choice that your alleged personal liberty, quoting some, I don’t know, something you’ve read on some website – this is not about human rights.

‘There are 10 families that are going to be burying someone in the next few days. Wear a mask! It’s not too much to ask.

‘What’s more, the nurse who will be treating you or a loved one, they will be wearing a mask, so you wear one to prevent that nurse from having to treat more patients.

‘It can’t get any more serious than that. 10 families are currently planning funerals. And the youngest among them, this he have’ lost someone in their 40s.’ 

The incident joins a growing list of videos circulating online from around the globe of people rebelling against COVID-19 regulations.

On Saturday, a Melbourne woman filmed an encounter she had with police who requested her details after she was found in public without face protection. A later post on her Facebook page defending her freedom has attracted widespread criticism from the public

On Saturday, a Melbourne woman filmed an encounter she had with police who requested her details after she was found in public without face protection. A later post on her Facebook page defending her freedom has attracted widespread criticism from the public

Eve Black, from Melbourne, shared footage on Thursday of herself driving past an officer at a COVID-19 police barricade

Eve Black, from Melbourne, shared footage on Thursday of herself driving past an officer at a COVID-19 police barricade

On Saturday, a Melbourne woman filmed an encounter she had with police who requested her details after she was found in public without face protection. 

When she declined to hand over her identification, the officers told her she was under arrest and being taken back to the station.

‘I do not consent to that and I will be suing you personally. Not your department. You will be personally sued for $60,000 each,’ she said.

‘If you do arrest us we will be suing you for armed kidnapping.’ 

The videos uploaded onto the woman’s personal Facebook drew widespread criticism from the public.

In two other Melbourne altercations last week, a man filmed his incredible 22 minute argument with police after refusing to wear a face mask while a woman filmed herself driving past an officer at a police barricade.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Victoria Police for comment. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk