Bill to prevent retail workers from intervening with shoplifters passes CA Senate

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STATEWIDE – Senate Bill 553 – legislation aimed at establishing new workplace violence prevention standards, passed the Senate, May 31. Bill author Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose) wrote the bill to help keep employees safe at work. 

“Under my SB 553, employers would be prohibited from forcing their workers to confront active shoplifters, and all retail employees would be trained on how to react to active shoplifting,” said Cortese in a news release. “The legislation has other provisions that keep people safe at work. Let’s take every reasonable step to prevent another workplace assault or shooting.” 

Recent California Retail shootings

Cortese cites recent shootings at California retail stores for the legislation.

A Home Depot loss prevention employee was shot and killed, April 19,  while attempting to stop an active robbery at the Pleasanton store. A week later a San Francisco Walgreens reportedly directed a security guard to recover $14 worth of stolen items with a “hands on” approach. The guard shot and killed the suspected shoplifter. The family is now suing Walgreens for wrongful death, seeking at least $25 million in damages.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cites workplace violence as the second leading cause of fatal occupational injury. The agency estimates that workplace violence affects nearly 2 million workers annually, with female workers experiencing higher rates of nonfatal injuries than their male counterparts.  

Senate Bill 553  

Senate Bill 553 requirements include:

  • Employers to maintain a Violent Incident Log of all violent incidents against employees including post-incident investigations and response;
  • All non-healthcare employers to provide active shooter training;
  • Retail employers to provide shoplifter training;
  • Employers prohibit maintaining policies that require workers to confront suspected active shoplifters;
  • Allow an employee representative to be a petitioner for a workplace violence restraining order.

California Retailers Association Opposition

California Retailers Association says that the bill goes too far.

“I think it will open the doors even wider for people to come in and steal from our stores,” said California Retailers Association President Rachel Michelin to Fox 2/KTVU.

Michelin says the bill does not address trained employees who approach shoplifters.

RELATED: CA bill to limit security deposit to 1 months’ rent passes Assembly

“It says no employee can approach someone who is shoplifting. So even if someone is trained on how to deter someone from doing that, now they’re not allowed to approach someone,” said Michelin. “So, what does that mean? We are opening up the door to allow people to walk into stores, steal and walk out.”

Cortese says there may be some adjustments made to the bill.

To track and read the full bill visit https://legiscan.com/CA/bill/SB553/2023

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