A Legacy of Experience

An employee is stealing from the business. What do I do?

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2023 | Employment Law |

Owning a business is many people’s dream. But the pleasure of being an entrepreneur also comes with its share of challenges. One of these is the potential of theft from employees.

Employees are an important asset for any organization. When you bring one on board, you hope that they will work for the business with utmost honesty, and certainly must do. As such, learning that an employee you trust is stealing from the business can be shocking. Unfortunately, employee theft is a huge problem in many workplaces.

Ways employees steal from their employers

Employee theft can take multiple forms. Here are just a few:

  • Stealing from the cash register
  • Using the company’s credit cards to purchase personal items
  • Forging signatures to withdraw company funds
  • Clocking in and out for other employees
  • Demanding kickbacks from vendors and suppliers
  • Using company gas card to fuel personal vehicles
  • Taking company product from restaurant, store or yard

Depending on the nature of the theft, here are two steps you can take:

  • Gather evidence – Theft is a big deal. In fact, it can justify dismissal. However, you should not act on hearsay. You must have reasonable evidence that the employee in question is actually stealing. You may benefit from gathering surveillance footage, witness statements from co-workers and account statements.
  • Refer to the company’s policies and procedures – Theft in the workplace amount to an act of gross misconduct. With effective workplace policies and procedures in place, you can have a framework for handling employee theft lawfully. The policy should clearly state what happens if a theft incident is reported in the workplace. Action may be taken against an employee who is stealing even if the Company does not have a policy—but a policy can be helpful.

Employee theft can be very disturbing. Depending on the severity, theft can not only cost the organization money but its reputation as well. Learning more about California labor laws can help you assert your business’ interests when dealing with employee theft.

When an employer suspects that theft has occurred or may be occurring, the employer should be careful about handling the internal communications about the topic.  Be cautious about what is said, emailed, or otherwise communicated.

Insurance policies can be purchased that cover embezzlement and related conduct.  Consider discussing that topic with your broker.