Conducting an Accurate and Fair Investigation – Employee Theft

employee time theftEmployee theft is defined by any sort of misappropriation of property belonging to an employer; the misappropriation is done intentionally. Theft by an employee can range from stealing money. Some incidents are minor while others are much more serious. When you find out that an employee is stealing from your company, it can be very painful. After all, this is someone that you trusted enough to hire; someone you trusted enough to be on your side and help your business grow. Your first reaction may be to confront them and give them the boot. However, this is not the way to go. There are avenues that you can take to deal with employee theft successfully and below you will find one such avenue. According the some of the most successfully companies in the world, the following information will help you get the satisfaction of justice that you are seeking without compromising anything.

Handling Claims of Employee Theft

Step 1: Conduct an investigation that is both accurate and fair

When you detect a theft you should move fast to investigate and dole out consequences. The only way that you can get right to justice is if you actually catch the employee in the act. Unfortunately this rarely the case. Typically all you can do is suspect based on certain evidence, either direct or indirect. In the beginning all evidence is purely circumstantial so an investigation must be done. It should include the following:

  • Any investigations should be headed by management, and not by the manager who made the report. This may cause bias.
  • Figure out if the suspected employee should be either monitored until the investigation is complete, or if they should be put on probation until the investigation is over.
  • Keep things hush-hush in case you are wrong about the employee as may open yourself up to a case of defamation or bring attention to any possible accomplices.
  • If the theft is a complex situation (possibly involving a great deal of money), bring in a professional to aid in the investigation.
  • Never try to seize the employee’s personal belongings with no consent. Do not even try to search their locker or other personal space without consent unless it is a written policy that you are allowed to do so.
  • Interview other employees while making it clear that they are bound by confidentiality.
  • Make documents of every interview and get each interviewee’s signature for reasons of confidentiality.
  • When you interview the suspect towards the end of the investigation, do so with at least one witness with you. Do not try to force a confession or make any deals. There is no reason for you to make bargains in order to get back what was stolen from you and it would set a bad precedent for future problems.
  • Once the situation reaches a conclusion, decide what further actions that should be taken dealing with the thief.

Loss Recovery

Once it has been determined that your employee has been stealing, you should contact your insurance company right away to see what rights you have. It is also a smart idea to get legal counsel to help you further. Let the law and your insurance company handle everything. Once the employee has been terminated, do not have any direct contact with them without your counsel. This can ruin your case and keep you from recovering any damages. It can also make it to where the employee does not have to face criminal consequences. Remember that just because the criminal justice system takes the case does not mean that you cannot file a civil suit as well. This may be the only way to recover the stolen item(s).

Of course it is never an easy thing to deal with employee theft. It can be emotional, angering and so many other emotions may fill you as well. The important thing is that the illegal activity has been caught and stopped, and that other employees realize the seriousness of such actions so they will be less likely to follow in the footsteps of their ex-coworker.