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Female employees at a North Hollywood Sears are threatening to sue the department store after learning of a fellow employee's arrest. Sears Peeper Alejandro Gamiz is accused of installing up to 60 hidden cameras so that he could film women in the store's restrooms and fitting rooms.
Sears claims it immediately contacted Los Angeles police when store security became aware of the situation. But lawyers for three employees say management didn't contact police for four months.
The employees' Sears Peeper lawsuit will primarily depend on whether this allegation is true. Employers cannot be held vicariously liable for the criminal acts of their employees unless the actions are undertaken in the course and scope of employment. This ordinarily requires proof that the actions were required by the job, or that they furthered the employer's business.
Lawyers will likely have a difficult time proving that Gamiz spied on women as part of his job. He was a maintenance worker, according to MSNBC, and had no authority to hide cameras. Doing so was also of little benefit to Sears.
However, if the employees can show that Sears knew about the cameras yet allowed Gamiz to continue filming for four months, they can still sue the company for negligent retention. Employers can be held responsible for the criminal acts of an employee when they should have fired him yet failed to do so.
But whether the company actually hid information about the Sears Peeper is still up for debate. Right now, KNBC-TV reports that the only evidence is an arbitration agreement the company had people sign before the story broke.