Scott Tibbs

Of course employees should not intervene in robberies

By Scott Tibbs, June 19, 2023

When I was hired as a bagger in February of 1990 for a now-defunct grocery store chain, one of the elements of our training manual was that employees were never to intervene in people stealing stuff. This has been common practice in retail for decades now, because employers do not want their employees getting hurt or killed for trying to protect merchandise. The explanation was that things can be replaced, but people cannot.

Some on the Right have excoriated Lululemon for terminating two employees for recording a robbery in progress. It is so unfair, some say, when they were just standing up for what is right. This just represents a surrender to crime. No, it does not. This is not political at all. It is standard practice across retail.

Even if we are being cynical and say that this is just to defend the store against wrongful death liability, it is still a good policy because it prevents people from getting themselves hurt or killed. Retail chains like Lululemon can work with law enforcement to prosecute people for theft, and security cameras can capture criminal activity without employees needlessly making themselves a target by recording video on their smartphones. This is not a pro-crime policy. This is a pro-life policy.

This is not difficult to understand. What is worse is that some of the commentators condemning Lululemon ought to know better. Life is not a movie where a hero can intervene, effortlessly take down some bad guys, and get the key to the city later. Store chains have these policies for a reason, and employees should not engage in insubordination by placing their own judgment above store policy.

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