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How Far is Too Far? 
3rd-Mar-2011 04:51 pm
Little Me

Do you think popular retail chains should require managers to check bags and purses each time employees leave their store?

Yes, but with restrictions (such as asking employees to open their purses wide enough to see inside, and to remove any questionable items or obstructions; without touching personal belongings, or reaching into bags or purses themselves)
Undecided or other (feel free to comment below)

Do you think popular retail chains should require managers to pat down their employees each time they leave their store?

Yes, but with restrictions (such as asking them to remove outer garments, or turn out their pockets; without physically touching employees)
Undecided or other (feel free to comment below)

Would you feel violated if you were patted down unexpectedly by an employer?

Yes, but how severely would depend on the job and situation
Depends on the job and situation
Undecided or other (feel free to comment below)

What would you do if you were patted down unexpectedly by an employer?

Abide by their policy without question
Contact upper management to see if this is a policy they do/will enforce regularly
Contact upper management to see if this is a policy they do/will enforce regularly, and if so, leave immediately
Leave immediately
Depends on the job
Undecided or other (feel free to comment below)

If you walked out, then discovered within the following days it was not their corporate policy (despite having been told by a manager it was), would you return and/or contact HR?

Depends on the job
I would not walk out
Undecided or other (feel free to comment below)

What corporate or business policies do you feel violate personal privacy?

Criminal background checks
Credit score checks
Patting down employees (no restrictions)
Patting down employees (with restrictions)
Purse checks (no restrictions)
Purse checks (with restrictions)
Relinquishing social networking passwords
... but it depends on the job
I prefer not to answer, because it depends entirely on the job
Undecided or other (feel free to comment below)

As a customer, if a business enforces policies you feel violate employee rights, would you still shop there?

It depends on how severely I feel it violates employee rights
Undecided or other (feel free to comment below)
No, as long as it doesn't affect my rights as a customer
4th-Mar-2011 12:56 am (UTC)
Unless they think that I'm stealing, I see no reason to be patted down/purse checked each day and even then I would require sufficient evidence to their claim before letting them go ahead and do it.
4th-Mar-2011 12:58 am (UTC)
This. I can't really think of a logical nor ethical reason to pat down employees unless you work for the TSA or some jazz like that.
4th-Mar-2011 12:56 am (UTC)
I think I could only understand purse searches if the employer had reason to suspect that employees were stealing things. I think pre-employment credit checks are uncalled for.
4th-Mar-2011 12:56 am (UTC)
Oops... reworded the last question just before posting. The fourth option should read, "Yes, as long as it doesn't affect my rights as a customer."
4th-Mar-2011 01:12 am (UTC)
I used to work in a retail store and they always checked our bags. Most employees would have clear purses and I just had a clutch, so they didn't stop us. However, if you had a bag with something purchased in it, they always looked inside.

I was NEVER patted down though.
4th-Mar-2011 01:13 am (UTC)
* And this was only at closing.
4th-Mar-2011 02:02 am (UTC)
The main exception being, if there was a preponderance of evidence that the employee was stealing. Also, any such policy ought to be disclosed to the employee well in advance.

If it happened to me and I found out that it wasn't policy, I would file a grievance but not necessarily leave, depending on the recourse and circumstances.

And if I knew of such policies at a store where I'm a customer, it would depend greatly on what my other options are for getting the same merchandise elsewhere. I would definitely prefer to take my business elsewhere whenever possible.

ETA (now that I'm on a real computer: I also have to say that being asked to relinquish passwords for ANYTHING, including some work-related sites/applications, is not only a breach of privacy but also security. Where I work, IT specifically asks us NOT to share our work-related passwords with anyone, and if they need to troubleshoot something on our workstations, they just remote in (with our permission). Any employer that required me to relinquish any kind of password for any reason, I would be out of there in a flash.

Edited at 2011-03-04 07:52 am (UTC)
4th-Mar-2011 02:49 am (UTC)
Relinquishing social networking passwords? There is not enough FUCK NO in the world. My internet life is completely separate from my work life, and they ain't gettin' anything from me there.
4th-Mar-2011 03:13 am (UTC)
First of all, the #1 shortage problem for retail is from employees who are stealing themselves or assisting outsiders to steal.

That being said, I find that dept stores have a better policy in that they require associates who feel they must have bags (purses) to use clear plastic bags. you know what I did? I put a smaller opaque bag inside my clear bag and used THAT! LOL still used my clear bag.

But anyway, its either use the clear bag or leave the bag in the car or something. Also, if the associates went shopping and had bags of goods, they were required to leave them in the office or somewhere like that until they left (or they could leave it in their car) so it wouldn't be around to stuff more crap in.

I do not like the policy of having to go through an associates bag/even wallet is thats all they are carrying every time they leave the store -- or any time. It actually gives me a sick feeling in my stomach. I know these stores can't afford security to watch everyone like the dept stores, but you have to just deal with it another way. ASSUMING your associates are theives right off the bat does not create good morale. You arte watching your customers to see if they steal, you should watch your associates too. Thats it.

Patting down associates is crazy -- I have never seen that. (I'm talking about retail)

And I have just recently read about the policy of asking for facebook passwords and that is severely nuts.
4th-Mar-2011 03:19 am (UTC)
At the bookstore I worked for, and at every single electronics store my friends worked at, employees stealing merchandise was a much bigger problem than shoplifting. I'm completely in favor of checking bags. Only in very serious circumstances would I be in favor of patting down an employee (like if you SAW him/her steal the merchandise). As for credit score checks, or relinquishing passwords, quite frankly, unless you're going to work for the government, why the heck would they need that?
5th-Mar-2011 11:14 pm (UTC)
You've said it for me.

Bag checks are required at the book store I used to work at, but only at closing. Having seen janitors taking the "garbage" out in big black bags at the store my husband used to work at, which were actually full of food and other grocery items, I would rather stores not have to keep jacking up the prices on things because of theft.
4th-Mar-2011 03:24 am (UTC) - My Story
Over the holidays, I applied for a job at reputable retail chain that sells women's laungerie and fragrances. The training was great, and despite some reservations, I felt I would do just fine there temporarily.

On my fifth day of training, I clocked out for lunch and approached a manager to have my purse checked, which is their policy. I'd brought a small purse and taken out most of its contents to prevent anyone from having to "dig" through my belongings (which I'd witnessed happen to other employees in the preceding days).

This particular manager reached into my purse, shuffeled around my cell phone, comb, lip gloss, lotion, and keys... as if there could possibly be something below them. She flipped through my license, debit and library cards, which were clearly visible in a side pocket. (As a side note... I'd been working with her all morning in stock, and the store wasn't open yet, so there shouldn't have been any concern about stolen credit cards, etc.). Then... she reached down and thoroughly patted the empty pockets of my jacket (at hip level), and said, "Okay, you're free to go."

After my lunch, which I'd spent on the phone in tears, I asked another manager about what had happened. She was apologetic, but insisted it was their corporate policy to pat down all employees prior to them leaving the store. One day prior to that, I noticed one girl had removed her coat and the manager had patted it down after looking into her purse. I had actually laughed, because I thought she was kidding! I asked to be escorted to the door one last time. The job paid very little and wasn't worth being treated like a criminal.

I was later told by a friend, despite the policy clearly being enforced within that particular store, it is not their corporate policy, and he suggested I file a complaint with HR. Three months have passed, and I've considered it (if only to find some peace about what happened), but I haven't been able to bring myself to do it. I'm not even sure who to contact anyway.

I insisted to friends and family there were no hard feelings and I would shop there again, but to be honest, I feel sick to my stomach when I see their commercials. I have no interest in shopping there again.
4th-Mar-2011 03:33 am (UTC) - Re: My Story
That's terrible. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. File that complaint!
(Deleted comment)
5th-Mar-2011 08:30 pm (UTC)
I work for a company that does bag checks on a regular basis as well as we cannot put on our coats until we reach the door. I don't see this as any violation since I don't tend to carry anything in my bag that I wouldn't mind showing them. I think it might depend on the personality type of the employee, if the employee's shady then maybe they'd see it as a violation of their rights. Really, my store has had a lot of problems with employee theft and they have found that this has been effective in curbing it.
As for pat-downs, I think I'm against that one, like what are they expecting to find?
For social networking, well, I have some of my coworkers on Facebook, and I have coworkers that have since become managers. I don't see anything wrong with that as I censor what I put on there and I use blocks on certain people to censor what THEY can see. I think it's just about being a smart employee and using one's better judgment.
5th-Mar-2011 08:45 pm (UTC)
I pretty much voted the most pro-privacy option on all of these, except for the first one. I wouldn't mind being made to use a clear bag. Searching every time you leave the door sounds like too much effort, and of course you're treated like a criminal. Getting your social networking passwords is the most insane thing I've ever heard... Not only do they see everything you've posted, but they can get into private emails with people who assume you're the only person to see them. It's a violation of more than just one person's privacy. And besides... why do they care what I put on Facebook? It's just voyeurism in disguise, in my opinion.. If a store did this to their employees, I would think it was ridiculous enough not to shop there.
6th-Mar-2011 02:15 am (UTC)
The only exception to this rule that I can see is if they have given the employee a job as a condition of the employee being out on parole or some such. Also, your first questions specify major retail chains, but your later ones merely say companies or businesses.

If we're broadening the category to companies or businesses, then I think companies that move currency and other valuables have the right to search their employees, as do transportation companies. Obviously, government organizations such as prisons and civil service buildings should require at least security checks. I worked in a building once where a Federal Policeman (armed government building security guards, basically) had been shot and killed just before I started working there. This was before he'd gone through the metal-detector/x-ray security check at the door. Before he came, only non-employees had to go through the metal detector. After him, employees did, too, even though the shooter was only a civilian. As a temporary employee, though, I had to go through the entire security check until my office made me a badge.

You can just never be too careful in government and transportation situations--even taxis and limousines--with the world in its current state.
6th-Mar-2011 02:30 am (UTC)
Having worked in some varied jobs over the years, I can say that working retail was certainly not the most intrusive place I ever worked - even though bag searches were performed every time we took our bags out of our lockers (shared with at least one other employee, mind you) or left the store. I have no major issue with bag searches, provided they are done without touching - since it is far too easy to plant something if they are allowed to touch/rummage.

I worked for our Social Security department for a long time. Security was such that all backgrounds were thoroughly checked and monitored for new activity (including traffic violations), and the internet was disabled at all terminals (preventing the need to turn over passwords etc) except the few who actually required access as part of their job description. Our emails were strictly monitored, and many got reprimanded for making less-than-complimentary comments about our employer - myself included. Of course, since we didn't actually have stock on premises, there was no need for physical security like bag searches and pat-downs.

I also worked in one of our local prisons for a while. Security here was unbelievably intrusive, but ultimately necessary. At the Main Gate/Guard House, all personal belongings except those essential either to the job or personal well-being (like medication) were surrendered to your locker, the rest into a clear bag to take through. Mobile phones and any other electronic devices (including ipods, cameras etc) were not permitted under any circumstances - even the Commissioner of Police had to surrender his mobile phone. Then a metal detector. Then a pat down. All calls had to be made on the prison system, and as such were strictly monitored. Extensive background checks were made on all employees - even cleaners. I was the Switchboard Operator (temp while the usual woman had surgery) - and I barely lasted the four months of my contract. I was offered another position on completion, and I turned it down. I understood the need for the security, but I felt dread every morning upon arrival at the Gate, and violated after every pat-down.

Here in Australia we have employee unions (all workplaces are covered, membership is totally voluntary) who are there to advocate for employee members should they feel violated or that a security check has gone too far (amongst other things). If I was subjected to a search that I felt went too far (particularly in a setting where that particular search was unnecessary) or was against published policies, I would immediately report it to my Union Rep or the Harassment Contact (most places here have strong anti-harassment laws and policies, and most places have both an elected union representative and a harassment contact officer - often one in the same). If it happened again, I would report them to the Anti-Discrimination section of the Human Rights Commission. If it continued, or I got no satisfaction from either complaint, I would resign, and go to the media.

As for shopping somewhere where I didn't agree with policies - I'd have nowhere left to shop if I did that.
6th-Mar-2011 01:15 pm (UTC)
I am very private, but accept that some employers, especially if I will be dealing with confidential information, children or money, need to do a background check. However, I would draw the line at being patted down or having my online passwords dragged out of me. That's personal, and they can sod off!

I don't think an employer should require a manager to pat down employees. I worked for a retail chain and one of the security officers appeared at closing time, one evening, did not identify himself and demanded to look through our bags as we left. I complained and it opened up a can of worms and he was reprimanded. If I was a manager, I would feel terrible, having to pat down guys as they leave the premises. I touch my wife and nobody else, thank you very much.

If you sign something when you start working for your employer, to say that you understand that security measures will require you to be patted down and your bag to be searched, and that they will need your online passwords, you can say there and then, "no thanks, I don't want the job." Nobody's holding a gun to your head to make to take it. If they spring it on you later, though, that's not right.

Our privacy is quickly dwindling, and I prefer to hold onto as much as I can.

6th-Mar-2011 06:25 pm (UTC)
If you're signing up with an employer, all such policies should be revealed, in full, before anything is signed.

Generally, unless it's somewhere like a prison (as mentioned above) or other high-security facility, bag checks and patdowns simply emphasise that the employer does not trust their employees. This in turn means that the employer does not trust their own hiring policies and feels they are unable to provide a workplace where loyalty is promoted and rewarded. This doesn't sound like a place likely to attract a lot of good employees for a long time, and I'd be wary of doing long-term business with that employer.

As for social networks - I don't care if an employer does their own checks on the internet prior to hiring or confirming an employee, or even if they read publicly posted information during the employee's length of service. However, demanding that an employee identify their own social network entries is just stupid: all an employee has to do is set their accounts to non-public and there's not much an employer can do to find them. "Oh, it must be someone else with the same name. I don't use social networks."

If an employer found the very few professional social accounts I maintain under my real name, and demanded access to them, I would tell them "No, and if you mention it again in this interview, I will give the service a list of all your employees and advise them that they have breached the TOS. You'll make the papers, and not in a good way."
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