Controlling and Investigating Theft in the Workplace

Workplace Theft requires employers to respond quickly and effectively. Of course, the best tool is prevention. Employers should implement be aware of the best practices for preventing theft in their organization. But, if a theft should occur or a complaint of theft is reported, employers must be prepared to react using predetermined standards and guidelines to ensure consistency and avoid liability.

The Delaware News-Journal is reporting the arrest of a manager of a local Wendy’s restaurant for allegedly taking $1,800 from the till.

Employee theft has been and will probably always be a problem. Recent estimates indicating that it costs U.S. employers anywhere from $4 billion to $40 billion per year.

So what’s an employer to do? How do you prevent – or at least control – employee theft? Our friend, John Philips, at The Word on Employment Law Blog, suggests the following:

    1. Watch for telltale signs like an unexplained rise in an employee’s living standards.
    2. Hire people you can trust through the use of good background checks.
    3. Make it hard to steal by careful supervision, the use of commonsense procedures and controls, and routine auditing.
    4. Partner with employees to create an environment in which reporting theft is a job responsibility.
    5. Give alternatives to stealing by providing employees with assistance when they get in a real bind with heavy medical expenses and the like.
    6. Establish clear written policies on ethical behavior to be signed by each employee and to be enforced consistently, no matter the employee’s position.

Once theft is suspected, John suggests the following to avoid a defamation action by the accused employee:

    • Thoroughly consider the source and validity of any information that alerts you to potential theft.

    • Obtain as much information or evidence as you can find about the alleged theft before you take action.

    • Review all policies that govern this kind of situation to make sure you’re following them.

    • Don’t speculate about what the facts could be; find out what they are.

    • Consider what you have done with employees in similar situations to be sure that consistency is being applied.

    • Consult legal counsel to make sure you’re on solid legal footing before taking action.

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One response to “Controlling and Investigating Theft in the Workplace”

  1. Travis Redel says:

    Hello, I have a question about a theft that happened to me on Aug 29, 2009. My car was stolen from a hosptial parking lot while I was working my shift. A visitor came into an unauthorized area of the hospital went through a drawer and located my keys and cell phone and drove off the premises. I was told by security that you park and work here at your own risk. Who is responsible? Thank you Travis

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