In a retail store the manager has instructed employees to lock the door when the store has closed, even if customers are still inside. This is to prevent more customers from entering. Is locking the door with customers inside legal? To be clear it is an ordinary lock with the non key side being on the inside (i.e. the customers could let themselves out).

Who would handle such complaints?

  • Just curious why do you think it might be not legal? (Assuming the door and lock are fire code compliant) You should ask separate questions separately.
    – xngtng
    Aug 1, 2021 at 11:35
  • The second question may be related but it's still a separate question. You have a few hundred rep so I doubt anything's stopping you posting it separately. Aug 1, 2021 at 11:35
  • If the customers can let themselves out, why would it be illegal?
    – ColleenV
    Aug 1, 2021 at 11:41
  • That seems to be pretty common practice, I've certainly have seen that done.
    – Hilmar
    Aug 1, 2021 at 18:10
  • 1
    @casablancaeggplant What does that have to do with the question? Aug 1, 2021 at 21:16

2 Answers 2


The customers are able to leave, so there's no reason it could be a crime. Even if they weren't able to operate the lock themselves, they are presumably able to leave by asking a staff member. There is no way this could be remotely considered false imprisonment.

Depending on the layout and size of the store and presence/lack of other fire exits, this might violate fire safety regulations.


In at least dorm jurisdictions, laws require be unlocked while customers are inside. This is a safety issue, so that peoplke wioll nort be trapped inside in the event of a fire or other emergency. Such laws were in many cases inspired by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, in 1911. In that case exit doors were locked, and some 146 workers died in the fire.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Places restrictions on door locks in commercial buildings, so that disabled customers are able to exit safely. See '"Door Lock Compliance"](https://www.gvlock.com/blog/door-lock-compliance/) There are also OSHA requirements on this issue. See "This Door Must Remain Unlocked. Why?"

To prevent additional would-be customers from entering, a business can station an employee at the door.

  • The question, at least as currently edited, notes that the doors are only locked from the outside direction. People in the store can get out.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 9 at 19:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .