A heterosexual man in Denver claims that a Best Buy employee wrongly “outed” him on Facebook after he left his phone for repair.
Rich Dewberry, 39, said he brought in his mobile device to get fixed and was given a new phone. Shortly afterward, his Facebook status read, “I am gay, I’m coming out.”
“The phone just started ringing constantly after that from [an] ex-spouse to friends,” he told ABC’s Denver affiliate, KMGH.
Dewberry said he was logged into his Facebook account on the phone he left with the store in April 2011.
“I feel I have been humiliated. My reputation has been tarnished,” he said.
“Just having to explain it to certain people that I haven’t been in contact for a while,” he said. “I feel I shouldn’t have to do that.”
“What this really comes down to is how much people value their reputation,” said his attorney, Linda Lee. “There is no judgment against people who have that lifestyle, but the reality is he isn’t.”
A year after the incident, Dewberry said he is still explaining that Facebook status to acquaintances.
“The real problem with Best Buy is they didn’t seem to have any procedures or safeguards to make sure this doesn’t happen,” Lee said. “I have all sorts of information on my cell phone. For Best Buy not to have procedures to protect their customers’ privacy, that is a problem.”
Lee added that they are not planning to file a lawsuit at this point.
“This is not about a lawsuit. This is about protecting your customers’ privacy and having procedures and safeguards in place to make sure employees aren’t doing this,” she said.
Lee said she has reached out to Best Buy for more information about the incident but the company has not formally apologized to her client yet.
Dewberry filed a complaint with the store, which told him the employee was fired, he said. Best Buy told KMGH, “Each year, every employee of Best Buy is asked to review and sign our Code of Ethics, which includes details on how they are expected to handle customer information.”
A spokeswoman for Best Buy provided the following statement to ABC News:
“Every employee of Best Buy is responsible for knowing what customer and employee information is, how to protect it and appropriate methods for handling, storing and destroying this data. Employees are required to understand and comply with the standards and guidelines provided to them, to ensure we respect personal privacy. If an employee violates privacy and/or data protection policies, they may be subject to disciplinary action up to, and including, dismissal and/or legal action if applicable. ”