This article combines theories on emotional labor in public service and dirty work to argue that organizations should adopt an ethic of care to support their workers. The economics of public services undermine the consumer-sovereignty narrative in government, particularly where public servants are agents of social control and enforcement. Public servants cannot and should not behave according to a customer-service ethos in many important areas of public service. Emotional labor is the process by which workers manage the identity-damaging aspects of public service. This article critiques individual-level human resource management (HRM) approaches and recommends dismantling customer service expectations that are inappropriately applied in public-service contexts.