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Police want info about an employee? Respond, be honest

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

If you’re honest when law enforcement officials ask for information about a potential crime involving an employee, the worker can’t sue for false arrest, even if he’s not formally charged or eventually is found not guilty.

Recent case: Sammy worked as a checkout clerk at a grocery store. When police got a complaint about a lost credit card that had been used three times at the store, they asked the store for information about who was working the checkout line the days the transactions took place. Video surveillance pointed to Sammy and another employee. Sammy was charged with theft.

He was later released and the charges were dismissed. It turned out that the other employee had used the credit card.

Sammy sued, alleging that his supervisors trumped up the allegations against him on account of his race and a prior EEOC complaint he had filed.

The court tossed out his lawsuit, pointing out that the employer hadn’t initiated the investigation and arrest. Nor did it do anything other than respond to reasonable inquiries from law enforcement. Managers merely identified Sammy from the surveillance video—no one from the store said he was the thief. (Perry v. Red­­ner’s Markets, No. 09-5645, ED PA, 2013)

Final note: Sammy also claimed he had been fired. However, it was clear that even after he was released from custody, he never went back to work and never asked about his status.

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