Controversial Video Showing Holiday Inn Express Employee Punching Himself During Argument With Customer


In the past couple of days, a controversial video has been circulating online and in traditional cable news media, displaying a Holiday Inn Express hotel’s front desk employee self-harming during a verbal altercation with a customer.

It’s now been several days, and first, we didn’t want to push this even further, but since it has now reached even mainstream publications, I feel it’s probably time to talk about this.

(The property pictured here is for illustration purposes only, this incident didn’t take place at this location.)

There will be people who hate seeing this or reading about it for whatever reason, but this incident deserves to be looked at from various perspectives to understand better what has caused this whole situation.

Right off the bat, this is the original video posted on Twitter by user Tariq Nasheed.

Usually, the way it works with Twitter media links posted will remain visible until a user decides to delete the tweet / media. Should it disappear sometime in the near or far future, then that’s why.

What’s important here is the content of the video, not Nasheed’s inflammatory political statements on Twitter or his own profile description, which I won’t comment on. I kindly ask our readers to follow this example, especially in the comment section!

We’re seeing a front desk employee at a Holiday Inn Express who is engaged with a guest in a complaint situation, and the guest started to use personal insults and cursing at the employee. The entire scene is captured on a cellphone video, later posted to Twitter by Mr. Nasheed.

Disturbing to see is that during the argument, the front desk clerk suddenly started to punch himself in the face and then slamming his head into the computer equipment, apparently suffering from a nervous breakdown. Maybe a medical professional can describe the situation and its cause more accurately.

The customer then walks around and captures more of the scene, trying to zoom in on the employee. Then the video cuts out.

We can talk about if this should have been recorded at all by anything other than the hotel’s security camera and, even if so, should it have been uploaded publicly without any regard for the individual’s privacy. I tend to say no as far as the publication is concerned. This isn’t the way to handle it, and it might even be illegal to do so.

Then there is the inflammatory caption of the video

A white Holiday Inn Express worker has a nervous breakdown after he got scolded by a Black customer because of a mistake in the reservation system.

I fail to see how this situation is in any way related to the skin color of either the employee or the customer. It’s a customer service situation that got extremely out of hand.

It got out of hand because, first and foremost, the customer appeared to be too aggressive and out of control in his way of handling the situation. No matter what the issue is, this is a business and not personal, so personal attacks against the employee working there should NEVER be an acceptable form of airing your grievances. Stay calm; if you can’t get anywhere, ask for a manager. If no resolution is to be had, escalate the matter post-stay to customer care or your local consumer protection entities.

Behavior, as displayed here by the customer, can and in many cases will result in a ban from the property or the entire chain. It can also lead to the closure and forfeiture of the loyalty program and all points. Most programs have a respective provision in their T&C.

Now about the employee. If you’re in customer service, you encounter rude customers, and it’s impossible to avoid this. It should be your and your employer’s responsibility to be adequately prepared for this, trained how to defuse such a situation, and most of all, assess if you’re medically fit for the job. Everyone can have a bad day at work and maybe snap, but this went a step beyond that.

According to Newsweek, the employee himself later publicly revealed on Reddit that he has bipolar disorder.

The alleged employee later posted on Reddit that he suffers from Bipolar Disorder and schizo-affective disorders. His distress prompted fierce criticism on social media.

Several Twitter users called it “triggering” and used it as a moment to share their own struggles with mental health, calling for compassion for the employee. …

Only a mental health professional can adequately assess and confirm this, but it brings me back to the argument about suitability for the job.

If your medical condition has a severe impact on your daily life and responsibilities at work, possibly being a danger to yourself or others, then this should be taken into account by yourself and the employer, seeking help from a medical professional to advise about if it’s possible to work in specific functions and/or if medication is a way to remove these concerns. Again the reaction here was out of the ordinary and over the top, which I note out of concern for the employee and not to criticize or make fun of him.

Someone has initiated a GoFundMe campaign that to date has collected $130,000 for the employee to “Giving him enough of a head start on finding a job where people don’t treat him terrible & he can take a nice little vacation.”

I’m not sure this problem is solved by throwing money at someone through a GoFundMe, something which has apparently become the universal “Go To” tool for many random causes nowadays. I personally don’t believe in very many of these fundraisers. Some problems go deeper than money.

I also would disagree that the vast majority of guests a hotel front desk clerk encounters treat the staff terrible. This was an outlier of its worst kind, short of physical altercations.

However, I can’t stress enough how crucial proper employee training is to protect both the staff member, the business, and the customer. Especially nowadays and in select service hospitality, the chances are that the person working there isn’t an experienced hospitality professional who went through years of intensive training. It’s not uncommon that this same person is a part-time worker with a second job at a supermarket.

The business operator is just as involved in this situation at hand as the two individuals are. The management should make sure something like this doesn’t happen either by assessing the medical condition of their employees, providing sufficient customer service training, and by having management on site to de-escalate such situations.


This is a regrettable incident that should never have happened.

Suppose you’re old enough to check into and work at a hotel. In that case, you should have yourself under control and conduct yourself with common decency, something that’s, unfortunately, becoming a rarity these days. The pandemic has gotten many people even closer to the edge as far as their mental state is concerned.

The incident should be investigated by IHG, the property operators, and hopefully those who personally care about the employee to make sure he gets the help and support he needs to get better.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the customer will face severe sanctions over this as well; some options of which I’ve outlined above would be in the realm of possibility.