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Is it legal for an employer to search your purse?
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Is it legal for an employer to search your purse?

I am a cashier at a retail store in Ohio (the kind where everything is just $1) and the District manager has now informed us that we have to have our purses searched every night and if we do not want to have them searched we are not to bring them into the store. I carry personal things in my purse that I need along with medication that I may need in a hurry ( for severe asthma attacks) and I wouldn't like my things gone through on a nightly basis. We have a locker area where I lock my purse up (with a lock I paid for) when I get in and then only remove it when on break or leaving. I work in the front of the store and the locker area is in the rear of the store. Male employees have not been asked to turn out their pockets, is this fair or legal?


Yes, I was going to first type that you have to be notified that the company has that right but as I read your statement I see that is what the manager did.

Btw, they can also search your vehicle if it is parked on their property. I have no clue why on earth they have this authority but they do.

Now with that said, you do have a discrimination case based on the fact that the males are not being searched.

Search and seizure law does not apply because it only applies to the government and its agents. The fact that men are not being subjected to the same treatment may mean that you would have a cause of action under equal protection. The real problem is that the employer has informed you ahead of time and has reasonable cause (to prevent theft most likely). If you could show that you need a purse (or similar carrying device) for you medications, you could make an Americans with Disabilities Claim (ADA).

It's really terrible and not fair. Unfortunately the law is very favorable to employers and gives private citizens in a voluntary context a lot of leeway. It doesn't sound like a good place to work. If it's really a problem for you, you might want to contact of lawyer.

If you live in the USA it is illegal and discriminating to not be searching the men...any body can stuff in their pockets and down their pants...

Employers Can have searches done on employees belongings that come in and out of their facilities. He can't dig around though, he can only do a cursory search, what he can see in plain view. But you do have a gripe if he only searches bags and since females carry bags the guys are not subject to these searches if they don't carry somekind of bag to work. Very one sided I would say.

That is illegal. Unless they have a good reason to suspect you, this will violate your 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches.

Nope. Not even with notification, can they do that. They can search your locker at work and your work email because they own them, but they can't search your personal stuff without your permission.

Yes, if, the employee, as a condition of employment, agreed in writing, to allow a random search. this is done quite often in department stores. internal theft, by employees, is at an all-time high. i guess, from the legal standpoint, in itself, would not be legal. of course, your job may be on the line, if you resist. most employers may or may not give advance notice of a random check. after all, the whole idea of the search would be to catch a dishonest employee. giving advance notice, would defeat that purpose. employers cannot make a profit, if their merchandise is walking out the door, by their employees. and, the employee can be arrested for theft. this would now make it a legal search and arrest.

No! Not without your presence and usually your permission. It may be that they would require a search of your persons/personal belongings perhaps even your vehicle if you are accused of stealing or if there may be a threat to anyone at your workplace if you are carrying a weapon or drugs or the like. Even if accused of stealing or carrying a weapon it should not be an unannounced search it should be with you present and with your consent.
If it (your purse/backpack) is in a company locker there may be a grey area there, but it would not be without you being there or at very least notified that a search would be happening.

I'd say this is stupid. If they really want to find anything out, just fricken install cameras! Jeeez.

Well, technically no. They can legally search your locker, but they can not legally go through your purse.

However, if you want to keep your job without having to go to court over the issue than you might want to just let them see inside your purse.

everyone should be searched, not just women. Or no one at all. that seems unfair.

Doesn't sound fair, but I'm not totally sure of the legality. I could see them asking if there has been a problem with theft, but, otherwise, it seems like an invasion of privacy. Especially if you didn't sign anything permitting them to search your belongings or it isn't specified in any employee literature.

That's called illegal search and seizure. ILLEGAL being the key word here, your employer cannot do this.

thats stupid talk to your boss about that cause thats bull.

jaded warrior 68
from what i know it is,as long as you are inside the store.

Crys H.
Although perhaps the men where you work should be watched more closely, it is both fair and legal. It would be foolish to leave an employee's purse off limits. That would be giving away an opportunity to steal, and while you might not take advantage of it, I GUARANTEE someone would.

Lihsa essentially got it right. Everyone that claimed a violation of a contitutional amendment for doing it was wrong. The constitution applies to government searches, not private. Does your employer have an ABSOLUTE right to search your purse... probably not, BUT they have a right to ask, and if you refuse, they can terminate you. They gave you prior notice that if you didn't want your purse searched, not to bring it in. They gave you an "out". So, if you don't want your purse searched... don't bring it into the workplace.

Yes, because the employer is protecting themselves against pilferage. You could get a clear purse to negate searches because all would be visible.
Oh, YOU don't have to turn out YOUR pockets either. It's fair in that sense. Also, men AND women could have their backpacks searched.
What scurvebags would steal from a dollar store?

i know when my sister use to work for Express they use to have there purse checked when there shift ended

i dont know if it is fair or legal...but in alot of stores they require that lady employees carry see thru bags to work if they need to carry a purse. i know thats not much better and it is an invasion of privacy .but might not be a bad suggestion to your employer...another suggestion..carry a small bag with your meds and cash ...whatever you need for your time while you are at work. it is unfortunate that it has come to that but today in this world there are thefts in the work place not to mention everywhere else and they have ruined it for the honest person . i dont take it personal because i know i'm an honest person and i have nothing to hide. its not your fault that the boss man doesnt trust you...its the crook that worked there before you....its like that everywhere.... so looking for another job wouldnt change much for you. good luck !

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