If an employee from a store breached companypolicy when he informed his family member of my underage son’s arrest, what canI do?

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If an employee from a store breached companypolicy when he informed his family member of my underage son’s arrest, what canI do?

My son was arrested and security from the store kept his personal belongings unknown to us. The employee from the store contacted his cousin who is my wife’s sister-in-law and informed her of his shoplifting and that they kept his wallet. This information should have never been revealed to her and her husband. The store should have contacted us to inform us they had his wallet and we were never informed.

Asked on January 21, 2012 under General Practice, Texas

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If your son was arrested, the fact of arrest is not private. Arrests are public and there is no privacy interest. In terms of the employee informing the cousin of keeping the wallet, I am unsure what the intent was; perhaps to let them know the wallet was there or simply to forward the information to the family. If the employee is not a supervisor and the phone call was after work hours or before work hours, it is pure gossiping and nothing that can be prosecuted or sued upon. Bottom line, while the store was involved, it really didn't have to inform you it had your son's wallet, that should have been up to the police. If your son was a minor, then it still did not owe a duty to you.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Legally, there is nothing you can do:

1) A store is not under a legal obligation to inform the parents of an underage shoplifter of what happened.

2) There is no cause of action or legal claim against someone for disclosing public information, and an arrest is public.

Certainly the store could have handled things better; but what they did was legal.


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