Like in the case of ACME electronics, companies face the issue of pilferage which results in tremendous loss of property at the hand of workers. To minimize such loss of property, companies often develop search programs to ensure no unauthorized property leaves the company. However, it is unlawful to subject employees to searching without well-laid policy since everyone is entitled to privacy. The Fourth Amendment of the American constitution provides the rights of privacy of workers that should not be abused. Nonetheless, such rights only stand in the case of public companies and not much applicable to private companies. In this paper, the legal challenges for private security in regards to the program of searching employees will be analyzed. The analysis will be based on the Chenkin vs. Bellevue hospital case.
In the Chenkin vs. Bellevue hospital case, the court intended to determine the legitimacy of the procedures provided by the health institution in its attempts to reduce property theft at the hand of employees in the establishment (Chenkin v. BELLEVUE HOSP. CTR., 1979). Bellevue hospital had since identified loss of properties, specifically towels, bed sheets, and other medical equipment. Consequently, the hospital developed a well-documented pilferage control policy that requires all bags, large parcels or packages carried by employees exiting the facility be subject to random inspections. Chenkin, who works as an assistant chemist at the hospital denied security officers from inspecting his bag on two separate occasions. Consequently, the hospital punished Chenkin by holding his one week's wage. Chenkin argues that the pilferage control program is unlawful and Bellevue should pay his held wages. Contrary to the plaintiff's claim, the judge ruled that Chenkin should not be reimbursed the one week's wage held by the hospital since he is guilty of disobedience. The judge argued that the system was fair since all employees were subjected to the searches as well.
The issues related to the pilferage control policy initiated at Bellevue hospital that the court was to resolve was whether in the searching of employees there was a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the American constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects public employees and gives them a right to privacy. Whether a public or private entity, employers are obliged to offer a policy that is clearly defined especially on how the searches on the employees should be done. The policy must meet the legal requirements so that in the event of a claim, the company does not risk not only losing a lawsuit but its property as well. A backpack is among private properties protected under the Fourth Amendment. The court had the task of finding out if the procedures instilled by Bellevue hospital were in line with the rules and regulations. Besides this, the court also had to find out if it was right for Chenkin to carry a backpack, which is private property when he was well aware of the searching procedures at his workplace.
In the court, Chenkin and Bellevue advanced opposing opinions with each of them taking a different stance on the pilferage control policy at the hospital. Chenkin submission was that his privacy was explicitly compromised when his belongings carried in the bag were to be searched. This is a matter that Chenkin insisted was protected by the Fourth Amendment and hence unconstitutional for the hospital to frisk him. He argues that the policy permits the security officers to intrude without solid reason into the privacy of Bellevue employees whereas it does not achieve any reduction of property theft. On the other hand, Bellevue opposes Chenkin argument on the ground that the organization is a large public entity, with many employees hence it is not reasonable to consider the individual benefits of privacy. Also, employees should not expect privacy on the luggage they carry to the hospital. Subsequently, with all matter put into consideration, Bellevue pilferage control policy is reasonable, and the security does not have to get consent before inspecting any worker. Besides, the policy was made public already thus unnecessary for Chenkin to complain when he was well aware, he might be searched.
The court ruled in favor of Bellevue Hospital. The judge making the ruling insisted that the pilferage control policy adopted at Bellevue was fair and a reasonable way of addressing the problem of property theft experienced at the hospital. The judge declared that the hospital should not make any reimbursement of Chenkin's one-week salary and the suspension of the wages should be maintained. The court rejected Chenkin's claim based on the nature of the pilferage control policy the hospital adopted. Bellevue communicated the new policy to all workers through a memo posted on all corridors within the establishment. Also, all workers were allowed two choices that would determine whether their luggage would be checked or not. If Chenkin did not want to get his bag checked, he ought to have left the bag in one of the locations outside the facility. Since he entered the facility with his bag, he is compelled to abide by the pilferage policy the institution follows. Chenkin intentionally violated the pilferage policy and hence guilty of insubordination.
Relative to ACME electronics facility, the court's ruling on Chenkin vs. Bellevue case would impact positively on security operations. The result of this case is evidence that security processes would be justified when it does not interfere with the provisions of the Fourth Amendment and follow the right protocol. In other words, security providers are empowered by the fact that the law supports their quest in reducing pilferage by making searches within a facility legal. However, this will only work only when the pilferage policies are well documented and communicated to the employees (Lemons, 2004). Also, security officers should know how to handle workers who resist searching and how to deal with such employees.
Ultimately, the results of Chenkin vs. Bellevue case would be significant in policy proposal at ACME electronics. Based on the judge's decision, it occurs quite clear, the importance of both private and public organizations towards developing a well spelled out a policy on how searching workers should be carried out. Mitrou and Karyda (2010) provides that a well-written policy on employee's search is crucial as in the event of a lawsuit, it is what the court will consider in the first place. Also, the court ruling equally shed light on the necessity of organizations considering the constitutionally provided rights when coming up with their policies. It is essential to consider the state provided privacy requirements when developing a search policy. This should be in the same way Bellevue complied with the privacy provisions in the Fourth Amendment of the American constitution.
Chenkin v. BELLEVUE HOSP. CTR., 479 F. Supp. 207 (S.D.N.Y. 1979) (US District Court for the Southern District of New York September 20, 1979).
Lemons, B. R. (2004). Public privacy: Warrantless workplace searches of public employees. PA Journal of Labor and Employment Law, 7 (1), 1-33.
Mitrou, L., & Karyda, M. (2010). Bridging theGap between Employee Surveillance and Privacy Protection. In Ubiquitous and Pervasive Computing. Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications, 1331-1349.
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