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Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 36642
Experience:  16 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 26 yrs
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Minor caught shoplifting; store publicized his name

Customer Question

My 10-year old son was caught shoplifting this weekend at a nationally well-known store. We're in Pennsylvania if that matters. We are well aware of the fines he will receive, and have discussed the punishment he will endure at home, more than likely for the rest of his pre-adolescent life! He has been embarrassed, and naturally all trust that we had in him is gone. It's been a rough few days for us! My question, however, is this...is the store security/loss prevention officer permitted to tell another store employee my son's name? I thought that, as a minor, this would not be publicized, but it has been (well, not in the paper, but online)! I was just informed that there is a post on an online forum (that everyone uses) from one of the store employees, which has naturally already circulated through the small town we live in, and more than likely by tomorrow, his school. I just had a talk with my son and told him that tomorrow at school is going to be hell, as he's going to have to explain his actions to his classmates and peers now. I'm not trying to defend him in any way, but I didn't think it would come to this, as I was told by the loss prevention officer that it would be private and confidential information, and then he turns around and tells an employee who knows us what happened, and then she decides to post it online. I know my son was wrong, but I was told one thing, and now we're dealing a whole new mess, so again, is this an allowable action by the store, and if not, what should we do? Thank you!

Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Barrister replied 4 years ago.
Hello and thank you for using JA! My goal is to provide you with excellent service and help with your legal problem.
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My question, however, is this...is the store security/loss prevention officer permitted to tell another store employee my son's name?
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Unfortunately, there is no duty of confidentiality that would attach to anything surrounding the incident. When someone commits a criminal offense, it is a matter of public record and since the store personnel owes no duty to your son, he would not have to keep anything confidential. Only certain people owe a duty of confidentiality to others that they interact with (i.e. attorneys, doctors, psychiatrists, etc.) and security guards are not one of them. He can only relate the facts of the situation though or it could potentially be considered slander or defamation.
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This is just one of the further punishments that son will have to endure... that of the offence being a public matter.
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Thanks.

Barrister

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If you need further help, just reply to me via the “REPLY” button and I will be happy to continue.

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I cannot enter into an attorney client relationship, this is a public forum, and all posts are available for public viewing. There is no duty of confidentiality that attaches to any posts. The information provided is not a substitute for a local attorney’s legal advice.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I was afraid that would be the case. I guess I just expected a bit more in terms of confidentiality.

Also, being that what this person posted online is factual, and she used my son's name, should I even attempt to get her to remove the post, or at this point, am I stuck allowing it to go on?
Expert:  Barrister replied 4 years ago.
Also, being that what this person posted online is factual, and she used my son's name, should I even attempt to get her to remove the post, or at this point, am I stuck allowing it to go on?
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To be very honest with you, there would be no legal grounds to force the person to remove the post as long as it was factual even if it disclosed your son's name. About the only thing you could do is ask them to respect your privacy and that of your son's as you deal with this situation and remove the post voluntarily.
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As an aside, when I was 13 I went through the same situation. So although it may not seem like it now, it doesn't negatively affect him permanently and most people will forget about it pretty quickly..
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Thanks.

Barrister

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If you need further help, just reply to me via the “REPLY” button and I will be happy to continue.

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I cannot enter into an attorney client relationship, this is a public forum, and all posts are available for public viewing. There is no duty of confidentiality that attaches to any posts. The information provided is not a substitute for a local attorney’s legal advice.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you...again, that's what I was afraid the answer would be. And thank you for your honesty...it helps to hear that :) I know we all do stupid things in life, I guess just in my youth, we didn't have all of these public online forums and word didn't spread like wildfire. I know people will eventually forget what he did, although we sure won't! It's just very sad to me that an adult would find it amusing to post something negative, even though true, about a child. I'll attempt to ask her in person to remove the post, rather than join in the online conversation, however, I'm guessing if she's childish enough to post it, chances are it's not coming off. Thank you again for all of your help!
Expert:  Barrister replied 4 years ago.
It's just very sad to me that an adult would find it amusing to post something negative, even though true, about a child.
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The problem with some people is that although they get older, they never grow up. They take pleasure in other people's troubles. Just be glad you aren't like this person because they must really lead an unpleasant life...
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You are very welcome. Glad I could help.
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Thanks
Barrister