Twitter owner Elon Musk took to Twitter to call out California’s new bill, SB 553, which, among other things, requires that stores discard policies requiring workers to confront suspected active shoplifters. Commenting on a ZeroHedge post about the bill, Elon said, “Late stage civilization vibes.”
Late stage civilization vibes
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 9, 2023
The bill that sparked Elon’s comment, SB 553, was passed by the California Senate on May 31st. The state’s Assembly committees are still considering it, and after it is passed there, Governor Gavin Newsom would have to sign it. State Senator Dave Cortese, a Democrat from San Jose, introduced the bill. The bill says employers should maintain a violent incident log, provide active shooter and shoplifter training, and stop maintaining policies requiring workers to confront suspected active shoplifters. Cortese described the bill as being meant to “help employers keep employees safe at work.”
Cortese also said, when describing what sparked the bill and why it would demand employers stop demanding employees confront suspected shoplifters, “What we’re saying in the bill is, it’s not ok for an employer to take a rank and file worker, somebody whose job is really something else, a reporter for example, and say ‘hey if there’s an intruder, we’re going to deputize you. You’ll be the one to intervene.’ People get hurt and oftentimes killed that way.”
On the other side, the CEO and President of the California Retailers Association, Rachel Michelin, came out swinging against the bill, claiming that it goes way too far. “This bill goes way too far, number one, where I think it will open the doors even wider for people to come in and steal from our stores. Number two, Cal OSHA has been working on regulations for the past few years that all industries have been engaged in. We’d like to see Cal OSHA processes continue because we have been working with them,” she said.
Continuing, Michelin went on to describe how the bill could encourage shoplifting, or at least make it far easier for shoplifters to get away with their crime with no intervention by the store being looted by them, saying, “It says no employee can approach someone who is shoplifting. So even if someone is trained on how to deter someone from doing that, now they’re not allowed to approach someone. So, what does that mean? We are opening up the door to allow people to walk into stores, steal and walk out.”
Some stores already have policies prohibiting employees from stepping in to deal with shoplifting situations. Lululemon, for instance, fired two employees who worked at a Peachtree Corners, GA, when they followed shoplifters who looted the store out of the store to get their license plate number and called the police. The employees claim they were fired for calling the cops and the business contends they were fired for engaging with the shoplifters instead of doing the safest thing and just keeping quiet and out of their way and not following them out of the store to get the license plate number.
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