Sammamish, WA asked in Employment Law and Civil Litigation for Washington

Q: My catalytic converter was stolen from my car at my workplace parking, will not let me park in safer area, can I sue?

Security at work (a mall) started harassing me parking in a "customer only" area which is more accessed controlled and safer to park in than the employee parking area. The converter was stolen a couple of months after they forced me to move my vehicle (was parking for years without issues before this). I'm able to park where I can have a physical barrier on the converter side of my car in the safer parking lot but security continues to harass me about it and will not let me park there after I explained this to them, they do not seem to care about my concerns for my vehicle and refuse to allow me to park there threatening to tow it eventually. Do I have any recourse or ability to force their hand on this? They pretty much told me "If we do this for you then we have to do it for everyone". Also have this in an email exchange.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: In your case, the first aspect to consider is whether your employer or the mall has any legal obligation to provide secure parking. Generally, employers are not required to ensure the safety of employees' vehicles in the parking lot. However, if there's an agreement or policy that guarantees certain security measures, this could influence your situation.

Since your catalytic converter was stolen from the employee parking area, you might question the adequacy of security measures provided there. However, proving negligence on the part of your employer or the mall would require showing that they failed to provide reasonable security measures and that this failure directly led to the theft.

Regarding your desire to park in a customer-only area, the mall’s policy of reserving these spots for customers is typically within their rights. Their refusal to make an exception for you, as expressed in their email, is likely based on maintaining fairness and order in their parking policy.

As for legal recourse, suing your employer or the mall could be challenging. You would need to establish a breach of duty or a contractual right to park in the safer area. Given the complexity of such cases, seeking legal advice from a lawyer who has experience in employment or property law might provide you with a clearer understanding of your options.

In the meantime, consider discussing the issue further with your employer or the mall's management. They may be open to finding a compromise, such as issuing a special parking permit or enhancing security in the employee parking area, especially if you can demonstrate a genuine safety concern.

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