updated - May 25, 2013 Saturday EDT
By Zanub Saeed
A group of women, families with children, and employees are suing Sears for privacy violation when it was found a North Hollywood branch of the department stores had hidden cameras in its changing rooms, set up by one of the maintenance workers at the store, said ABC News.
Allegedly, it was found that women and children were being videotaped by Alejandro Gamiz, 27, from 2009 to April 2012, said ABC News, and now 25 women are suing the company. Gamiz placed hidden cameras behind the walls of the store, said ABC News, and apparently also uploaded some of the videos from the changing rooms online, though the website they were sent to has now been taken down.
Michael Adler, the attorney for the plaintiffs, noted that it is unknown how many women were videotaped during the three-year time frame.
"There's a lot of people who were patrons and don't have any idea that they've been videotaped," Alder told ABC News.
One former Sears employee who is suing the company and Gamiz as well for invasion of privacy, commented on the situation.
"My heart immediately sank," Krystel Dean, the former employee, told ABC News. "Not only have I used the restroom and dressing rooms, but my small children have used them as well. I feel like our privacy has been invaded."
The lawsuit was filed on June 11th in the Los Angeles Superior Court, though the amount for damages and attorney fees were not mentioned. The plaintiffs argued that Sears should have realized that Gamiz had installed the illegal video tape system for recording, as well as creating peep holes from which to spy, said ABC News. The group suing Sears accused them of turning a "blind eye," noted ABC News, to Gamiz's "suspicious behavior" during the time of his employment at the department store.
A spokesperson for Sears Holding Corp., could not comment further on the investigation as it was currently pending, though had this to say.
"But as we said previously, and with all due respect to the associates who may have been impacted by this incident, no member of management or leadership in the company had any prior knowledge of the accused's alleged conduct until it was discovered in our store," spokeswoman Kimberly Freely told ABC News. "At that point, we immediately launched an investigation and turned the matter over to the police."
The suit noted that Gamiz "regularly and frequently purported to be performing maintenance" in the restrooms and dressing rooms, air ducts and crawl spaces, and "closed off access to these areas" when "no maintenance was required, requested or necessary," said ABC News. The lawsuit is currently underway.
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