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Editorial: Protect customer privacy at Salvation Army store in Hadley

A spokesman for the Salvation Army said his organization is cooperating with Hadley police as they investigate a report that an employee at its thrift store there peered in at a woman using a fitting room.

This is an ugly incident that warrants a full investigation — and not only by police. The organization should determine whether the store took proper steps to prevent the invasion of customer privacy. The woman who reported the incident told the Bulletin that as she left the store last week, she heard someone chastise the worker, saying he had been warned before not to look in on a customer.

The Salvation Army Thrift Store in Hadley serves the community by making a market for good, inexpensive clothing. And its sales underwrite its wider mission.

But the incident July 26 is an understandable setback for customer confidence, even though the store acted quickly to put the employee on leave, as it should have.

The customer who reported the incident showed great presence of mind in reporting what happened to authorities, as well as concern for the community by agreeing to speak about it. An account of what happened appears on today’s front page. She did so even though she was clearly rattled.

As she tried on clothing that Friday, with her 7-year-old son nearby, she said she noticed the employee looking in over the top of the cubicle’s door. Even after she screamed and asked what he was doing, he remained there, looking. “I felt so violated,” she told the Bulletin.

It is now up to Salvation Army officials to explain to the community the steps they will take to make sure something like this never happens again.

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