The accused is a 27-year-old former maintenance worker who is currently out on bail after posting a $20,000 bond. Alejandro Gamiz is accused of hiding a series of cameras in change rooms and women's washroom(s) at the Sears store, and surreptitiously recording employees and patrons.
Various media reports have said the accused is co-operating with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). So far it remains unclear if faces can be seen in the videos, as opposed to an individual's anatomy. One media report from CBS 2 Los Angeles indicated that cameras were strategically placed lower to the ground, in an effort to focus on areas of female anatomy and not reveal faces. However, that does not prevent facial exposure were a person to bend down or if children are involved.
One employee of the Sears store, who is considering a Sears Peeping Tom lawsuit against the corporation, indicated that her three young daughters have all been in the change rooms and women's washroom at the facility.
What has both employees and patrons of the store worried is what Gamiz might have done with the images he allegedly recorded. Digital images can be easily uploaded to the Internet or distributed via memory card. The type of recording equipment the accused allegedly used was not revealed in media reports.
A central focus of the Sears employee lawsuit is whether or not Sears knew about the privacy breach for some weeks or months and, if so, allegedly failed to inform employees, customers or police about the breach until it put a policy into place that would minimize or mitigate lawsuits stemming from the incident.
The policy, an arbitration agreement, is reported to have gone out to Sears employees two weeks prior to the arrest of Gamiz on suspicion of the illicit taping. Legal counsel hired by Krystel Dean, a sales associate at the North Hollywood store who is considering a Sears Peeping Tom lawsuit, told a CBS 2 news reporter that the timing of the arbitration agreement is highly suspicious.
The attorney, who is representing two other Sears employees in a potential Sears employee lawsuit, noted in an interview that employees were asked to sign an arbitration agreement that obligated employees to participate in a private arbitration process so the matter at hand would not go public, bound employees from talking to anyone, and prevented them from acting as a group.
In a statement issued to 4 NBC, Sears noted, "The adoption of the company arbitration policy is independent of this matter," and does include a 30-day opt-out clause for any employee having signed it prior to the arrest of the Sears Peeping Tom suspect.
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"The associate accused of this crime was fired and we are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigations."
4 NBC Southern California reported that Sears claimed to have notified the LAPD immediately after one of its loss prevention officers performed a regular sweep of the premises and noticed something suspicious.
The Sears Peeping Tom issue could have a huge impact with regard to potential litigation. With up to 60 cameras allegedly recording images in women's washroom(s) and change rooms for up to three years, hundreds of thousands of customers could be affected. Any patron having frequented the North Hollywood location where the alleged recording took place may well consider a Sears customer lawsuit.