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Old October 6, 2011, 04:21 PM   #1
Big Tom
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Were my Right Infringed/Can I take legal action?

Hi guys, so today I was on my way into work. At the time clock a employee was waiting for me. When I punched in he told me I had to come with him. I followed him upstairs to the security room. When the doors closed the head of the company's lost prevention introduces himself. He then brings up the reason he asked me into the office. He said that someone from my work "came across" my youtube videos and saw that I had a lot of guns. They said that they were very concerned and started questioning me on why I like firearms, my political views, and if I was carrying a gun on me. They told me to lift my pant legs to show that I had nothing on my ankles and I had to pull out my pockets. They then wanted to check my locker. Btw they found no gun. What they found in my one pocket knife that was a 3" blade folding knife (S&W extreme ops) and a Victorinox swiss army knife. They apparently went through all my videos and wrote down every gun I owned and read them out loud to me. They also told me exactly what calibers they were and told me that they checked me because they were worried about me being "postal". The store manager took my knife to have it printed on the copier. He showed me a company policy booklet that said I could be terminated for having aknife on me. He said he didnt want to terminate me and is giving me another shot he says. I feel like I was violated of my Constitutional rights. Can I take legal action against the company?
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Old October 6, 2011, 04:31 PM   #2
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Your constitutional rights weren't violated.

You could have told them that you weren't going to let them go through your pockets - but you didn't.

The locker is kind of tricky - but in general courts have held that company lockers belong to the company and the company has the right to open them.

You didn't have to allow your Swiss Army knife to be taken but you did...

You still may have a decent case that you were treated unfairly... I doubt they've done a search of YouTube concerning every employee to see any and all activities they may have engaged in that are against company policy.

If the ACLU were really interested in ALL civil liberties they would help you sue the company...

But they're not so they wont.
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Old October 6, 2011, 04:35 PM   #3
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I am not real sure if you can since they did not terminate your employment. I remember the stupid workplace violence video that I had to watch as part of my employment. Supposedly one of the high risk for being a violent employee is owning a large amount of guns, or showing a sudden interest, and infatuation with guns. Supposedly this was taken from some idiots interpritation of the FBI's workplace violence study or something like that.

As far as fior the knife I would recomend checking the company policy regarding such items. I know where I work having a tire iron in your trunk can get you fired. We are not even allowed to have a pocketknife in our car if it is parked on the property.

Oh and if you are on at will employment, they can fire for no reason at all.
No matter how many times you do it and nothing happens it only takes something going wrong one time to kill you.
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Old October 6, 2011, 04:45 PM   #4
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I am not a lawyer but I would say no.

You published the information to the world wide web. They were able to get all the info they presented you with from your videos right? People have been terminated and denied employment based on thing posted on myspace, youtube and facebook etc.....

I assume they have no guns and no weapons policy. They used the info that you willingly disclosed to the entire world as a basis to inquire if you had a weapon on company premises. By definition many companies consider a knife a weapon.

You consented to the search of your person and your locker so IMHO you have no grounds to sue.

Their tactics and their actions are offensive but IMHO not illegal.
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Old October 6, 2011, 04:52 PM   #5
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This post is interesting.Maybe the word will get out that showing the world all about you may not be a good idea.Why people like to show off their guns or doing sex acts and uploading them is beyond me.The Internet is not your friend.
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Old October 6, 2011, 05:16 PM   #6
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if you had not co-operated with them, and said what I have is mine, it is legal in this state and I am not going to consent to you searching me...and then they terminated you, and or forceably searched you/or both...then you may have had cause under privacy and/or employment law....

IMHO: as you consented to the search, and you were not terminated, no, I would think you are on your own.

That said, I would start looking for other employment, don't quit, just start looking to work for someone that actually respects your privacy.
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Old October 6, 2011, 05:24 PM   #7
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Nothing was violated since you posted it all for the world to see

YOU created this mess for yourself

Sorry, just the facts
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Old October 6, 2011, 05:30 PM   #8
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Terminates for having a pocket knife? Why I hate and would never work for big corporate America. I think you have no case unless you are fired, passed up for promotion, demoted or otherwise sanctioned sometime in the near future. Even if you were any of the above unless you are a minority, a woman or another "class" of people the ACLU is interested in it will be tough finding a lawyer for free. Sadly the ACLU and most other "peoples rights" groups seem to ignore amendment number two.

Another thought, was anyone from your company's HR department there? You mentioned "loss prevention" but did not mention anything about HR. It is a long shot but you might try talking to someone in the HR dept. about this, I would leave the part about the lawsuit out btw. Good luck


YOU created this mess for yourself
While that is true for the OP, it does not make it right. The only company policy he violated was over a pocket knife which IMO is horse hockey. Unless these videos are "columbine" type videos I think what happened to the OP is wrong. I am going to get flamed for this but that is like telling a homosexual who gets a "talking to" at work its his fault for outing himself online, or a woman being ostracized at work because she blogged about getting an abortion; or for that matter someone getting a talking to for posting videos of themselves doing something dangerous on a motorcycle. Gun Owners are starting to be thought of as mentally defective for just wishing to own a gun. God forbid you own many guns or talk about guns then you MUST be dangerous. I am really tired of this crap, where the heck is the gun owners ACLU?

Last edited by Patriot86; October 6, 2011 at 05:41 PM.
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Old October 6, 2011, 05:30 PM   #9
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In my view it is very unwise to post such things on the internet.
You need a lawyer to answer your question.I think your employer went over the top, but the legal questions cannot be answered here.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 *¶Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 *For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
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Old October 6, 2011, 05:31 PM   #10
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Further confirmation of why I DON'T put out anything personal on the web, or join any of the "social media" services (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
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Old October 6, 2011, 05:37 PM   #11
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I wonder if either of them have alcoholic beverages at home? Do they stop off to have a drink before they get home? Could that be so construed as to make them look like alcoholics and potentially dangerous to the workforce? Makes about as much sense as what they did. While I do not believe your rights were violated I would still contact an attorney just so they are aware of the situation. They may have slandered you with the "postal" comment but a lawyer would be better able to determine this.
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Old October 6, 2011, 05:48 PM   #12
Big Tom
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Thanks for the info guys. I wasnt really trying to push a law suit but to go into work and make my employer feel guilty about what he'd done to me and to read my rights to him showing him his errors so that we could put it to rest. Oh well, we shook hands and left it at that. He told me that I can carry a knife to work but that I have to put it in my locker before clocking in and can only take it out after clocking out to leave. It is what it is, I dont plan on being their past February anyways. Again I do appreciate the helpful comments. I dont plan on getting rid of my youtube account. It keeps growing and I have a lot of friends on their. I'll just make sure to keep it more under wraps for now on...
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Old October 6, 2011, 05:54 PM   #13
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I agree with the rest you gave up whatever rights you had left when you consented to the search. If you had not had the knife and they had terminated you just for the videos it is my opinion that you would have had a case. If they terminated you for the knife, and it violated the company policy, you would not have a case because you consented to the search.

On another note... What is the non gun communities obsession with how many guns someone has? Last year a guy down the street refused, for a short time, to leave his house when the police came on a domestic call. After it was over and the story went around, and made the news, all anyone could talk about was that "he had a small arsenal with him" (it was maybe 5 guns)

Somehow number of guns owned equates to more likely to be deviant? By that logic I should have taken over the world and started running it as an oppressive dictator long ago.

When I pointed out to one of the people that was going on about his "arsenal" that it did not mater much how many he had because he could only shoot, at most, two at a time the look on there face made me think the pressure of thinking about my comment was going to make their head explode.
Seams like once we the people give what, at the time, seams like a reasonable inch and "they" take the unreasonable mile we can only get that mile back one inch at a time.

No spelun and grammar is not my specialty. So please don't hurt my sensitive little feelings by teasing me about it.
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Old October 6, 2011, 05:58 PM   #14
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So when you leave you put the whole deal on UTUBE and smear'm all over the Net. You do have freedom of speech too.
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Old October 6, 2011, 06:01 PM   #15
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There are a couple of lessons here:

- People have become increasing afraid of other people going off the deep end. And the media have concentrated on the misuse of guns in this regard, rather than their legitimate use in defense against it.

- Companies have become increasingly aware of their civil liability if the Deep End occurs either on their property or by their people.

- And the most important lesson: The new Social Media is NOT your friend. Instead it is a gaping picture window into your personal life and that life's peculiar vulnerabilities. NEVER post anything anywhere that you don't want to eventually see on the front page of the New York Times, your employee HR file, your credit reference file, or held in a lawyer's hands sitting in the opposite chair across a court room.

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Old October 6, 2011, 06:33 PM   #16
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Was it legal? Probably, there did not sound to be any information secretly obtained.

The original poster of this thread really needs to have a honest look at the image he projects and decide if this alerts others that something bad might happen. It is really doubtful that he was picked at random without some sort of trigger. It's really doubtful that someone whom looks straight laced would get the same treatment as someone that had looked rough with tattoos, piercing, "kill everything" stickers on their car and so on.

For example, there is a guy at work that wears all black all the time. His shirts usually have some sort of gloom and doom verbiage, or a abbreviation for something obnoxious. All day he listens to thumping death metal, it used to be at high volume but company policy was changed because he and a few others were getting out of hand with the sound level. Frequently he is moody, withdrawn and sometimes slightly aggressive. His friends at work are somewhat on the fringes of stability and share the " They are out to get me and keep me down. " mentality.

I had associated with this guy before he slipped into the abyss. In a moment of lucidity, he related to me how he is offended that everyone thinks he is a drug addict and can't figure out where they are getting that impression. " Gee, all black , death metal, moody . . " I said. He still does not get it, act like a duck and get called a duck.

Lastly, the OP needs to remember that a new job will soon be the same as the old job unless he changes the way he acts.
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Old October 6, 2011, 06:38 PM   #17
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Do a search on 'employee at will.'
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Old October 6, 2011, 06:48 PM   #18
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At will really only would apply Olof he had gotten fired. At will foes not give an employer the right to do whatever they want on a daily.
"Its a tool box... I don't care you put the tools in for the job that's all..." Sam from Ronin
The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced. -Frank Zappa
Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.-Frank Zappa
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Old October 6, 2011, 07:13 PM   #19
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What kind of company do you work for?

I'd ask the guy if all the money they spent on the investigation the reason your raise was crappy. Then pull out some random crap from "the usual suspects"

I can't carry at work but they have no rights to what you have in your vehicle. Check your laws...
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Old October 6, 2011, 07:18 PM   #20
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Ramitone that really depends on the state. In some states if you are on their property like the parking lot your car is subject to search too.
"Its a tool box... I don't care you put the tools in for the job that's all..." Sam from Ronin
The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced. -Frank Zappa
Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.-Frank Zappa
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Old October 6, 2011, 07:52 PM   #21
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Yup, Florida is a good state for me.
Now what's also interesting is a lot of businesses don't own their parkinglot. Ie shared strip center style. A lot of businesses lease their buildings and their land. If the business has customers that come to their shop then the parkinglot is a public place. If there's a gate to get into the parkinglot that's another story.
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Old October 6, 2011, 07:56 PM   #22
Frank Ettin
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Originally Posted by Big Tom
...I feel like I was violated of my Constitutional rights....
And whether or not any rights you might have under applicable employment law were violated, understand that in no way were your constitutional rights violated. A private employer can not violate your constitutional rights because a private employer is not subject to, nor regulated by, the Constitution. The Constitution regulates government, not private parties.

It's doubtful that OP has a claim against his employer here. His employer didn't invade his privacy. The investigation started by the employer viewing material the OP put out in public for anyone in the world with Internet access to see. And the OP consented to the search of his person. In addition, the employer did not terminate the OP for violating the employer's weapons policy.

There are legal limitations on what employers can do, and employees do have rights. Those rights derive not from the Constitution but from Common Law and state and federal employment law. State law is usually key, and if someone is concerned about his rights at the work place, his best source of information will be a qualified lawyer in his State.
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Old October 6, 2011, 08:14 PM   #23
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Sounds like a "hostile work environment" -- which is not necessarily illegal unless you are a member of a protected classes (black, female, Vietnam veteran, disabled, etc.) Also it has to be a pattern of abuse, not just a single incident.

There's also "intentional infliction of emotional distress."

None of these sound winnable to me (I am not a lawyer) and if you bring legal action against your boss you'll probably never work anywhere again, so choose wisely.

Just wait for them to break into your car to perform an illegal search; call the sheriff and press criminal charges.
"The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun"
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Old October 6, 2011, 08:32 PM   #24
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You have free choice in where you work. If you don't like the way they treat you, tell them to take a hike. Telling us who 'they' are might save another gun owner a similar problem.
I'm inclined to think if a man hasn't gotten his point across in 4912 attempts, 4913 probably isn't going to do it.
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Old October 6, 2011, 08:55 PM   #25
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He showed me a company policy booklet that said I could be terminated for having aknife on me.
Had you not seen this policy before? Most private employers ban employees from carrying weapons. That's the culture. If I were taking a new job, I'd make a point of knowing what their policies were. It's not easy to transition in this market.

As others have pointed out, it was a jerk move on the part of the company, but in no way are they liable. Nor should they be.
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