The employee worked at a Virginia Target store for almost eight years in loss prevention, reports the Washington Post, and is now looking at his legal options after he says he was terminated for doing what he was hired to do.
He says that back in May, his supervisor noticed a man who appeared to be shoving a tube of toothpaste into a bag after he’d already checked out other items. But his supervisor “didn’t feel comfortable” confronting the man, the worker says, adding that he thought the shoplifter “was some sort of law enforcement.”
The worker says a manager was shown the surveillance tape and recognized the suspect from a shared activity. The staff decided to wait for him to return before doing anything further, a common practice.
About 10 days later, the security worker says his supervisor alerted him that the man was back, and this time it looked like he paid for some items at the pharmacy register while concealing others in his cart, then combining the stolen goods with those he’d paid for in bags.
The worker says that his supervisor again “didn’t feel comfortable” confronting the man, so the staff called the police. The security employee went to the station and filed a report, bringing an officer back to the store later with him to watch the video.
According to the security worker, that police sergeant watched the surveillance video and said the incident was “pretty serious” because the man was allegedly in law enforcement.
He also says that his supervisor somehow knew the suspect’s full name, and he then called to report that fact to police.
A few days later, he says he was notified that he’d been suspended for two days. Days after that, he was terminated for “gross misconduct.” He claims Target told him he’d violated a confidentiality policy by calling police without approval first and giving them the video, all without filling out internal paperwork.
The worker says that he’s never had to do anything like that before, and treated the situation in question just as the company always had in the past — watching store video and taking action to call police and make a report when deemed necessary.
“In my eight years, I’ve never had to call anyone to give out the video or to call police,” he said. “I have never seen any policy about contacting law enforcement.”
He also says police usually move forward with such shoplifting cases within a few days, but haven’t done so this time.
It’s unclear whether the man in the video is a sheriff’s deputy or not — the man the Target workers named as a police officer has retired from the sheriff’s office since the incident, but the police department says the shopper seen in the video hasn’t been positively identified yet.
A lieutenant said that investigators “haven’t positively identified this guy. They’re still doing follow-up investigation.” As for why the case has been taking so long, he doesn’t know, but “there might be some extenuating circumstances.”
A corporate spokeswoman for Target didn’t discuss the details of the case with the Washington Post, but said that in the worker’s case, “we have conducted a full investigation and don’t believe there is any merit to this individual’s claims.”
The worker has obtained legal counsel and is considering what to do next.
“I’m confused and don’t understand why,” he said. “I’ve been there for eight years, no issues. I’m just trying to provide for my family, and I just really want to get back to work.”
Target security officer fired after reporting shoplifting [Washington Post]