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Report: retailers maintain secret blacklist of former employees

The jobs report issued this month suggests that employment is picking up far less than what was predicted. Market analysts predicted that the economy would gain 200,000 jobs in March, but in fact only 88,000 jobs were added last month. This means it is still very tough out there for people who are seeking employment in Texas.

Unfortunately, many people who are job hunting are denied employment for reasons that are not fair. A recent news report details certain background checking procedures that are becoming common in the retail industry that may be keeping qualified people from obtaining work.

Retailers across the country have reportedly pieced together databases of workers that have been accused of stealing, and these databases are being used as a barrier to employment. Workers' rights advocates have said that using such databases for an employment screen is not fair because many people who are listed as thieves never faced criminal charges for any theft.

Major retailers such as Target and Family Dollar are reportedly adding suspected episodes of shoplifting to such databases even when workers are not charged or told that they will be added to such a repository of information.

Many of the employees who end up in the system reportedly signed written statements when questioned by store security, but they were not told that they were admitting theft or that the information would be added to a database.

One woman who says her career in retail has been ruined by the database was accused of theft by a discount store she worked at in 2008. Her employer reportedly accused her of not ringing up the $35 purchase of a former employee of the store, and although the employee did not admit doing this, she ultimately signed a statement because she was under the impression she could otherwise be sent to jail.

Several lawsuits have been filed against the companies that run these subscriber databases and the future of those remain to be seen. Unfortunately, for now this may be a significant barrier to employment for many people.

Source: New York Times, "Retailers Track Employee Thefts in Vast Databases," Stephanie Clifford and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, April 2, 2012

  • Our law firm in Harris County represents people in a variety of employment disputes. For more information about our practice, please visit our Employment Law website.

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