California lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that would prohibit retailers from requiring their employees to confront shoplifters.
As shoplifting becomes a greater, more common threat to businesses, sales associates find themselves in increasingly dangerous positions.
Sales associates who confront shoplifters have been confronted with violence which, in some cases, has turned fatal.
Now, the California State Senate has passed Senate Bill 533, which will prohibit employers from “maintaining policies that require employees to confront active shooters or suspected shoplifters.” The legislation will move on to policy committees in the State Assembly.
Senator Dave Cortese (D), who submitted this bill, said, “With growing awareness of workplace violence, California needs smarter guidelines to keep workers safe in the office or on the job site.”
“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. The legislation has other provisions that keep people safe at work. Let’s take every reasonable step to prevent another workplace assault or shooting.”
The bill has been met with opposition from groups such as the California Retailers Association (CRA) who argue that this bill will make it easier on shoplifters than it already is, further threatening brick-and-mortar businesses.
“This bill goes way too far, number one, where I think it will open the doors even wider for people to come in and steal from our stores,” said Rachel Michelin, President and CEO of CRA.
Rob Moutri, the policy advocate for the California Chamber of Commerce, also voiced concerns about the bill.
“California’s employees – both public and private – should be very concerned about SB 533 because it requires all employers to meet workplace violence standards that exceed even those applied to hospitals under present regulations,” said Moutri in a statement.
SB 553 will also require employers to maintain a violence log of all incidents against employees, including investigations and responses to the incidents, and it will require employers to create a violence prevention plan that includes an evaluation of environmental risk factors in their workplace environment.
If it is approved by the California State Assembly and signed into law by the governor, the legislation would go into effect on January 1, 2024.