Employee in the hot seat loses claim he was falsely imprisoned — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Employee in the hot seat loses claim he was falsely imprisoned

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Zachary Shannon began working for OfficeMax in January 2006. When the company hired him, Shannon signed a standard agreement that he would not photocopy pornographic materials. On Jan. 14, an employee found pornographic photocopies on one of the store’s copiers.

Daniel Jones, who managed the store, determined that Shannon had rung up the copy order the night before and had not charged the customer for the full number of copies.

On Jan. 20, Jones, along with James Mastin, the company’s loss prevention officer, called Shannon into the cash office. Shannon reportedly admitted to them that he had copied pornography, discounted the copies and made copies for himself. He signed a written statement confirming his admission.

Shannon claimed he was instructed not to leave the office during the interview, which lasted nearly an hour and a half. He sued for false imprisonment and defamation.

The Georgia Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s determination that Shannon stayed in the room “to clear himself of suspicion,” not under threat of force. It noted that “the threat of being terminated from at-will employment cannot constitute the basis of a false imprisonment claim.”

The trial court also found that the only possible grounds for Shannon’s defamation claim was OfficeMax’s report of Shannon’s termination to the Georgia Department of Labor, which were both privileged and true, and therefore were “not actionable.”

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