THE Attorney's Update
Everyone knows the old saying: “it’s easier said than done.” Local 367 continues to address situations where our members confront shoplifters or persons in the store who are acting in a threatening manner. Unfortunately, we usually learn of these incidents from members who were terminated for violating an employer’s shoplifter apprehension policy. Absent, some mitigating factors (more on that below) arbitrators allow retail employers to maintain very strict policies to minimize their liability.
So, here is the easier said than done part. Put simply, it’s not your job to confront shoplifters or dangerous people in the store. In our safety meetings, your employers have consistently told us you should not follow or confront shoplifters or suspicious persons. As such, it’s going to be a lot easier for us to defend you in situations where you refuse to confront these people than it is if you do. Of course, give your manager or another responsible person (i.e., LP) a heads up about the person and let them handle it. If you are a PIC and you are told it’s your job to confront shoplifters or dangerous persons in the store you should contact your union rep right away.
That said, employers have a duty to apply their policies consistently. They can’t send mixed messages to you about what the policy is on shoplifters and other workplace safety issues. If you work for an employer whose policy is unclear because of inconsistent practices or vague language, please let us know so we can address it before anyone loses their job (or gets hurt).