If you suspect that an employee is stealing and you want to confront and discipline the employee, we suggest that you first contact your legal counsel so that your rights and the employee's rights are protected.
If you have a reasonable suspicion that an employee is stealing or have actual proof, your lawyer may suggest that you follow these steps to address the issue:
- Ask the employee to explain.
- Ask the employee to take a polygraph test.
- Decide whether to:
- press criminal charges
- seek restitution
- discipline the employee
- fire the employee
Here's a list of things you should definitely not do:
- Do not detain or restrain an employee. False imprisonment is against the law, and charges can be brought against you if you force an employee to remain somewhere (e.g., your office) and there was no reasonable basis for the action. Depending on the situation and the employee you're dealing with, there may also be an element of personal danger involved in trying to detain someone. Contact the authorities or your attorney for specific advice if this situation comes up.
- Do not defame the employee. Publicizing the fact that a person was fired because he stole six plants and some artwork from the office may not be worth the expense that a possible defamation action may cost you.
- Do not threaten to prosecute if you are not sure that you are going to bring charges. Keep in mind that bringing charges against someone is a money- and time-consuming process, too. Be sure to weigh the costs involved in prosecuting someone for theft and make sure it's worth it.