Employees and Customers Sue Sears After Being Videotaped in Store Dressing Rooms

July 2, 2012

A Sears department store in North Hollywood was recently sued for the crimes allegedly committed by a former maintenance man, who has been accused of videotaping both customers and employees in dressing rooms and washrooms throughout the company's store at a North Hollywood mall, with a hidden video camera.

Our Costa Mesa labor and employment legal team, led by Vincent Howard, has been following this Los Angeles, California lawsuit, that was filed by Michael Alder, the president of the Consumer Attorneys Association in Los Angeles, on behalf of twenty-five victims. The lawsuit accuses Alejandro Gamiz, who was arrested on April 12, for surreptitious filming and burglary, after a Sears employee noticed suspicious activity.

According to investigators, Gamiz, who had worked for Sears for seven years, installed cameras with motion sensors in the dressing and washrooms, which were then linked to laptop computers and believed to be in use recording customers and employees for at least three years. It is unclear whether the victims' faces were taped, or just their bodies, but some of these videos were reportedly uploaded online for others to view.

Gamiz has been accused of thirty criminal counts of peeping into a dressing room with the intention of invading individuals' privacy, and thirty criminal counts of using a recording device that was concealed in the dressing rooms and wash rooms.

The lawsuit against Sears reportedly seeks unspecified damages for creating a hostile work environment filled with harassment and retaliation against Sears employees who have come forward in this lawsuit. The case also seeks damages for unpaid wages, negligent hiring, retention and supervision of Gamiz as a Sears' employee, as well as the invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of mental and emotional distress. Sears is also being accused of intentionally turning a blind eye to the suspicious behavior of Gamiz.

According to Sears, no member of the Sears management had any knowledge of Gamiz's alleged behavior from 2009 until April of this year, until the conduct was discovered in the North Hollywood store. The lawsuit alleges that Sears should have known about the peepholes and cameras, before Gamiz's arrest, as he frequently performed maintenance in areas where no maintenance was required or necessary. Sears claimed no prior knowledge of the alleged acts, and reportedly turned the matter over to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Another report that Vincent Howard has been following claims that two week before announcing Gamiz's arrest, Sears issued an arbitration agreement for employees to sign that prevented them from talking about future claims, or filing a lawsuit in the Superior Court. The lawsuit states that one week prior to the arrest announcement, Sears then pressured the employees who had failed to sign the arbitration agreement, to sign quickly.

Howard Law, PC represents employees in cities throughout Orange County, California, who have experienced harassment and retaliation in the workplace. Contact Vincent Howard today for a free consultation about your right to a workplace that is free from labor and employment violations.

Dozens of women and children secretly videotaped in Sears dressing rooms and bathrooms over the years lawsuit claims, Daily Mail, June 15, 2012

Lawsuit Filed Against Sears On Behalf Of Peeping Tom Victims, CBS Los Angeles, June 12, 2012

Los Angeles Sears Employee Sued for Videotaping Women in Dressing Rooms
Related Web Resources:

California Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC)

Related Blog Posts:

CA Assembly Passes Bill to Keep Facebook Employee Passwords Private in the Workplace, California Employment Lawyers Blog, May 12, 2012

Disney Workers File Lawsuit Over Employee Privacy--Identity Theft Risk, California Employment Lawyers Blog, May 16, 2011

Electronic Privacy in the Workplace: CA Court Rules Attorney-client Privilege Does Not Protect Work E-mail, California Employment Lawyers Blog, January 24, 2011

Privacy Issues of NASA Scientists Debated in the Supreme Court, California Employment Lawyers Blog, October 12, 2010

Supreme Court Sides with Employers on Texting Privacy Rules in the Workplace, California Employment Lawyers Blog, June 21, 2010