Can you sue if you’re accused of shoplifting?

Imagine being in one of your favorite stores. You picked up some items you liked to look at them, but you put them back when you decided you could wait to make a purchase at a later date. As you started to walk out the door, the staff member stops you and accuses you of pocketing one of the pieces.

This kind of wrongful accusation can cause serious problems, especially when you end up being arrested as a result of the claims. Shoplifting charges can be significant and result in penalties such as high fines and imprisonment.

What rights do you have if you’re detained by a store for shoplifting?

If you are detained, remember that the store and security has to be reasonable. They cannot hold you for hours on end without cause. If the shop owner or associate, security or other party checks your belongings and does not find an item they were looking for, you should be free to go.

If you are arrested and it later turns out that you did not commit a crime, then you may be able to file a lawsuit. If the store was being discriminatory based on your age, sex, gender, disability, race or other protected class, then you may be able to state that this behavior was a violation of your civil rights and make a claim.

Do employees have the right to sue if they’re accused of stealing?

Yes, employees can also file a claim against an employer for being wrongfully harassed or fired because of false accusations of stealing. If you’re an employee and deal with accusations due to protected factors, then you may also be able to claim discrimination and a violation of your civil rights took place, which may help you make a claim.

Whether you are an employee or someone shopping locally, if you are falsely accused of stealing or shoplifting due to your age, race or other factors, you may want to speak with your attorney about the steps you can take to defend yourself and to make a claim against the business for violating your civil rights.