If I am being accused of letting a customer walk out without paying, am I entitled to see the video before signing anything?

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If I am being accused of letting a customer walk out without paying, am I entitled to see the video before signing anything?

My register was $185 short. I was told that there is video of me ringing up a customer and letting them walk out without paying. When I asked to see the video or for proof, management told me am not authorized to view the video. What are my rights and what am I entitled to?

Asked on May 6, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If there is no lawsuit and no criminal charges, you have no right to see the video. That is even the case if your employer terminates you--since unless you have an employment contract, you are an "employee at will" and could be fired at any time, for any reason. That means that if the employer chooses to terminate you, you have no right to see any purported or alleged evidence against you (unless litigation later ensues), and have no claim for wrongful termination, barring certain kinds of illegal discrimination (e.g. racial or sexual) or certain unlawful retaliation (such as for claiming overtime or FMLA leave).

If you are sued for the money or criminal charges are brought--or you file a lawsuit, such as for racial discrimination, if you think that's what's happened, for example--you would have access to court mechanisms, called "discovery," to see the video. But you only have access to those mechanisms in court.

You don't need to sign anything you don't want to, so long as you are prepared to take the possible employment consequences, such as termination. Again, if you don't have an employment contract, unless you can show illegal discrimination, it is almost certain that your employer could terminate you--or, for that matter, take some step short of termination, such as demote, reduce pay, or suspend you--over this.


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