The current study draws from contemporary theories of morality to examine moral motives underlying service employees’ interactions with clientele. Specifically, we posit that employees who exhibit strong moral commitments to service equality (MCSE) are likely to make efforts to treat all clients equally—even when differential treatment is externally motivated by economic incentives or workplace frustrations. An analysis of self-report survey data from restaurant servers (n = 963) confirms robust associations between MCSE and various employee behaviors. Specifically, restaurant servers who report strong MCSE are less likely to report treating clients differently, whether for economic reasons (e.g., service discrimination, preferential treatment of regulars, service sweethearting, flirting) or in response to workplace frustrations (e.g., venting, disrespect toward clientele). We conclude with a discussion of the complexity of workers’ moral motivations and the need for further research in this area.
Brewster, Z. W., Brauer, J. R., & Lynn, M. (2017). Morality at Work: Do Employees’ Moral Commitments Inhibit Service Disparities and Reactive Workplace Behaviors?. Social Currents, 2329496517725330.