Best Buy Employee Loses Job After Thwarting Shoplifter
As the saying goes, a good deed never goes unpunished. At least that's what a 51-year-old worker at Best Buy recently discovered all too well when he attempted to thwart a shoplifter.
Roger Kline, 51, lost his job last week after he tried to stop a thief from stealing about $1,600 in merchandise at the electronics retailer's store in Billings, Mont.
Kline's instincts took over, he told the Billings Gazette in detailing the March 28 incident, and instead of letting the man dash away, Kline grabbed the thief and threw him to the ground. The alleged shoplifter was arrested, charged with felony theft and awaits trial.
Kline, meanwhile, was called into his manager's office last week and handed a notice of involuntary separation. He had been fired.
Best Buy's employment policies prevent employees from "pursuing shoplifters under any circumstance or using physical force to detain them" and can be fired for doing so, the Gazette reported.
That policy isn't uncommon among retailers, says Robert Miller, who sits on the Society for Human Resource Management's employee health, safety and security expertise panel.
Employees attempting to stop crimes in progress put employers at risk for lawsuits and other claims that could arise if either the employee, alleged criminal or bystanders are injured or killed.
"There's too much liability to get your employees involved," Miller says, and the potential for large claims grows in tandem with the size of the company. Big employers, such as Best Buy, run the risk of facing huge liability claims, should employees attempt to act like super heroes.
The reason for the policy is, simply, employee safety, Miller says, and that extends to even store security personnel, who are often instructed not to go after shoplifters and other criminals and instead call police to deal with the matter.
Still, that doesn't mean that some employees, such as Kline, won't act instinctively to stop a crime in progress. Though the merchandise doesn't belong to workers, many may still feel that way.
Indeed, Kline said as much in explaining his actions in attempting to detain the Best Buy shoplifter.
"Someone steals from you, you stop them," he told the Gazette. "That's the way I was brought up. I felt like the guy was stealing from me, not just the company. I guess I took it a little personal when I saw the guy run out of the store with two computers."
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