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Two retail employees say they were fired last week after they chased down a suspected shoplifter.

Wait: The tale gets even loopier. The men – Paul Shoemaker and Mike McGee – apparently were on their break and chasing an alleged store shoplifter not in their store, but in an adjacent Apple Store.

The pair were heading out of the Sprint store where they used to work in Denver's Cherry Creek Mall when they came upon a frantic security guard in the hall. "[He] came right basically in front of us, and was like, 'Help me, Help me.' Out of breath. You could totally hear he was distraught," Shoemaker told Denver's 7News.

The pair pitched in to help capture the alleged shoplifter.

"It's the way I was raised as a kid," McGee said. "You see something that's going on wrong you step in and try to help whatever way you can."

The trouble started after the suspect was carted off. Sprint's corporate policy states that employees should not chase shoplifters, though the men argue they were on break and it wasn't even Sprint's merchandise they were seeking to retrieve. Sprint declined to comment, citing privacy concerns.

The firing isn't without precedent. In October Walmart fired an Ocala branch's loss prevention officer for chasing a man allegedly trying to steal golf balls. And in August 2009, two college-age Best Buy employees were fired from a Broomfield, Colorado Best Buy after tackling an alleged shoplifter. A Best Buy spokeswoman said all employees "are aware, and trained, on the standard operating procedures for dealing with shoplifting or theft – which includes ceasing pursuit of a suspected shoplifter once they exit the store." This, she said, was for the safety of employees.

So should you fire an employee for pursuing a thief? Only you can decide the "should," but legally you are able to do so.

Employment lawyer Frank Steinberg blogged about the Walmart case that the chain "was clearly within its rights to set a policy on how shoplifting incidents were to be handled and to decide that the guard's violation of that policy warranted termination."

In fact, having a policy about how employees should handle shoplifting or any crime they witness on the job is seen as a smart move legally, because it can protect you from liability in the event someone is hurt. Judgments in these cases are rare, but can reach into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

In Texas, for example, a shoplifter – his lawyer says he admits to the crime – is suing Walmart for $100,000 over the dislocated shoulder he claims employees inflicted on him.

Separately, the Houston Chronicle reported the company paid nearly $750,000 as part of a settlement to the family of a 30-year-old alleged shoplifter who died of a heart attack as employees tried to stop him. (The items he was accused of stealing: a package of diapers, a pair of sunglasses, a BB gun, and a package of BBs.)

Whether the good Samaritans in Denver deserved to be terminated is another question; how you train your staff to handle loss prevention is one of those tricky matters you probably never considered when you first started your business.

http://www.inc.com/news/articles/2010/04/sprint-fires-employees-for-pursuing-shoplifter.html?partner=yahoobuzz


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Two retail employees say they were fired last week after they chased down a suspected shoplifter.

Wait: The tale gets even loopier. The men – Paul Shoemaker and Mike McGee – apparently were on their break and chasing an alleged store shoplifter not in their store, but in an adjacent Apple Store.

The pair were heading out of the Sprint store where they used to work in Denver's Cherry Creek Mall when they came upon a frantic security guard in the hall. "[He] came right basically in front of us, and was like, 'Help me, Help me.' Out of breath. You could totally hear he was distraught," Shoemaker told Denver's 7News.

The pair pitched in to help capture the alleged shoplifter.

"It's the way I was raised as a kid," McGee said. "You see something that's going on wrong you step in and try to help whatever way you can."

The trouble started after the suspect was carted off. Sprint's corporate policy states that employees should not chase shoplifters, though the men argue they were on break and it wasn't even Sprint's merchandise they were seeking to retrieve. Sprint declined to comment, citing privacy concerns.

The firing isn't without precedent. In October Walmart fired an Ocala branch's loss prevention officer for chasing a man allegedly trying to steal golf balls. And in August 2009, two college-age Best Buy employees were fired from a Broomfield, Colorado Best Buy after tackling an alleged shoplifter. A Best Buy spokeswoman said all employees "are aware, and trained, on the standard operating procedures for dealing with shoplifting or theft – which includes ceasing pursuit of a suspected shoplifter once they exit the store." This, she said, was for the safety of employees.

So should you fire an employee for pursuing a thief? Only you can decide the "should," but legally you are able to do so.

Employment lawyer Frank Steinberg blogged about the Walmart case that the chain "was clearly within its rights to set a policy on how shoplifting incidents were to be handled and to decide that the guard's violation of that policy warranted termination."

In fact, having a policy about how employees should handle shoplifting or any crime they witness on the job is seen as a smart move legally, because it can protect you from liability in the event someone is hurt. Judgments in these cases are rare, but can reach into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

In Texas, for example, a shoplifter – his lawyer says he admits to the crime – is suing Walmart for $100,000 over the dislocated shoulder he claims employees inflicted on him.

Separately, the Houston Chronicle reported the company paid nearly $750,000 as part of a settlement to the family of a 30-year-old alleged shoplifter who died of a heart attack as employees tried to stop him. (The items he was accused of stealing: a package of diapers, a pair of sunglasses, a BB gun, and a package of BBs.)

Whether the good Samaritans in Denver deserved to be terminated is another question; how you train your staff to handle loss prevention is one of those tricky matters you probably never considered when you first started your business.

http://www.inc.com/news/articles/2010/04/sprint-fires-employees-for-pursuing-shoplifter.html?partner=yahoobuzz

What is wrong with our system???? So, you break the law and get caught and get injured or.....even die because your ahh hem....breaking the law and ,,,,you get to sue the company you were ROBBING!!! :bonk::bonk:


~Johnny~

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This topic will probably get moved to "Off Topic", but...

I agree with the company. These guys took an enormous risk. If anyone had been hurt then a number of people could have exposed to an expensive law suit, including themselves, the Apple store, as well as their own employer. Even though they were on a break, it still happened while they were on their shift. Sprint had to make a point that their rules of conduct still apply, even when you're on a break. Someone I know was fired for sexual harassment because they told a steamy joke in the company break room, and another employee was offended.

Pretty much every retail business has a similar policy. It's better for the shoplifter to get away than to risk a customer, an employee, or the shoplifter getting hurt. If they're lucky, the shoplifter will be caught by police. The store will write off the loss, in any case.


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This topic will probably get moved to "Off Topic", but...

I agree with the company. These guys took an enormous risk. If anyone had been hurt then a number of people could have exposed to an expensive law suit, including themselves, the Apple store, as well as their own employer. Even though they were on a break, it still happened while they were on their shift. Sprint had to make a point that their rules of conduct still apply, even when you're on a break. Someone I know was fired for sexual harassment because they told a steamy joke in the company break room, and another employee was offended.

Pretty much every retail business has a similar policy. It's better for the shoplifter to get away than to risk a customer, an employee, or the shoplifter getting hurt. If they're lucky, the shoplifter will be caught by police. The store will write off the loss, in any case.

Completely disagree...a company doesn't own you when you are not being paid. You are on break, off premises, it is your time. It's not the same as your friend...he was still on company premises interacting with other employees.

These two should sue the fuque outta Sprint.

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JC Penney (at least a couple of years ago) is one of the few companies that still chases people down and will tackle them to the ground.

I worked for them about 8 years ago and enjoyed very much helping out Loss Prevention any chance I got. Hell, even chased a guy out into the mall parking lot and this female little girl LP manager tackled a guy to the ground like he was nothing. It was hilarious and awesome.

JCP didn't put up with ####### back then.


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What country doesn't have frivolous law suites? Lawyers find loop holes and make stupid cases win all the time. Every justice system has flaws but I wouldn't live in any other country besides USA.

Australia doesn't. In fact, the streets are paved with gold in Australia and they hand out free cookies, door-to-door, every morning (unless you're an indigenous citizen). Just ask booyah.

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Completely disagree...a company doesn't own you when you are not being paid. You are on break, off premises, it is your time. It's not the same as your friend...he was still on company premises interacting with other employees.

These two should sue the fuque outta Sprint.

A clause in the contract I signed with my employer states that I can be fired if I do anything that reflects badly on the company, whether it's done on my time or theirs. For example, if I make an inflammatory statement in front of a journalist, and they happen to mention who I work for, then I could be fired. The clause has been tested in court, and it was upheld.

The same contract also has an intellectual property clause that states that any invention I create while I am employed by the company, even if on my own time and using my own resources, is the property of the company. The only exception are inventions which are declared as my own at the time I am hired, or inventions which are unrelated to the business of the company. This clause has also been challenged in court, and it was also upheld.

The fact is that the company "owns you" to whatever degree you permit them to own you when you sign your employment contract.


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Australia doesn't. In fact, the streets are paved with gold in Australia and they hand out free cookies, door-to-door, every morning (unless you're an indigenous citizen). Just ask booyah.

I do laugh when one the two biggest idiots on here have the same responses with one another. Is it that jealousy that triggers the response or the reality that you simply cannot accept that somebody else does something better than you?

Actually, if you put down the archaic guitar and read something, you would find that such frivolous lawsuits are not common nor permitted by numerous courts avroad; thus the cliche only in America. After all, I did study a number of business law subjects.


According to the Internal Revenue Service, the 400 richest American households earned a total of $US138 billion, up from $US105 billion a year earlier. That's an average of $US345 million each, on which they paid a tax rate of just 16.6 per cent.

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A clause in the contract I signed with my employer states that I can be fired if I do anything that reflects badly on the company, whether it's done on my time or theirs. For example, if I make an inflammatory statement in front of a journalist, and they happen to mention who I work for, then I could be fired. The clause has been tested in court, and it was upheld.

The same contract also has an intellectual property clause that states that any invention I create while I am employed by the company, even if on my own time and using my own resources, is the property of the company. The only exception are inventions which are declared as my own at the time I am hired, or inventions which are unrelated to the business of the company. This clause has also been challenged in court, and it was also upheld.

The fact is that the company "owns you" to whatever degree you permit them to own you when you sign your employment contract.

That is the problem with the law here or lack of. Such a contract in AUS, for example, is null and void. The Judicial system does not permit a private corporation to yield that sort of power over an individual. Following up on what guitar boy on here said, another example is that a business cannot place a clause in their contracts that nullifies the court. That is, they cannot put a clause that says you have no right to sue them or use the courts.

Contracts here yield much more power than those abroad. Basically, under English law, I cannot sign my life away as I can here. The contract would be nullified by the court.


According to the Internal Revenue Service, the 400 richest American households earned a total of $US138 billion, up from $US105 billion a year earlier. That's an average of $US345 million each, on which they paid a tax rate of just 16.6 per cent.

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A clause in the contract I signed with my employer states that I can be fired if I do anything that reflects badly on the company, whether it's done on my time or theirs. For example, if I make an inflammatory statement in front of a journalist, and they happen to mention who I work for, then I could be fired. The clause has been tested in court, and it was upheld.

The same contract also has an intellectual property clause that states that any invention I create while I am employed by the company, even if on my own time and using my own resources, is the property of the company. The only exception are inventions which are declared as my own at the time I am hired, or inventions which are unrelated to the business of the company. This clause has also been challenged in court, and it was also upheld.

The fact is that the company "owns you" to whatever degree you permit them to own you when you sign your employment contract.

I would assume you have a higher-paying job than just some clerk at a Sprint store...but as far as the IP clause in your contract, imo, you got screwed.

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