Retailers are keeping track of employees suspected of stealing in databases that could keep them from ever working in the industry again.
These databases are used my major retailers including Family Dollar, Target, and CVS, report Stephanie Clifford and Jessica Silver-Greenberg at The New York Times.
The databases usually don't involve criminal charges, and most employees aren't aware that they've been put on the list until it's too late, according to the Times.
"But the databases, which are legal, are facing scrutiny from labor lawyers and federal regulators, who worry they are so sweeping that innocent employees can be harmed," the Times reported. "The lawyers say workers are often coerced into confessing, sometimes when they have done nothing wrong, without understanding that they will be branded as thieves."
Employee thefts cost retailers about $15 billion a year, according to the National Retail Federation.
The Times spoke to several people who are suing the database companies after being turned down for jobs. Some had not even admitted guilt for the alleged thefts.
Proponents of the databases say that it's important for companies to weed out potential thieves in the struggling economy.
But consumer attorneys say the system is full of abuses, since the database entries generally stem from statements obtained by a store's security force, which are not subject to due process, and employees may not even know such records exist.
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