Employee theft costs businesses a massive amount of money, between $20 and $50 billion annually. Since theft and fraud are so common in business, chances are that you will come across an dishonest employee at some point. So what do you do when it happens? Obviously, you will want to terminate the employee. However, there's a right way and a wrong way to go about investigating theft and terminating an employee suspected of theft. Following are common mistakes that business owners make when trying to investigate and fire a thief.
Even if you catch an employee stealing red handed, you cannot fire them based on your findings alone. They can always say you framed them. In essence, it's your word against theirs. When performing an investigation, always make sure that there are two investigators involved. It's also a good idea for one of the investigators to not know the employee in question. Hire a private investigator if you have to. If your company has a protocol for theft investigations, you must strictly follow it. Any deviations from the protocol could be used against you later in court.
You have to be careful about how you collect evidence for your investigation. You cannot search the suspect's personal belongings or you may get slapped with an invasion-of-privacy claim. You can't do a sting operation like you see on TV, recording your employees in the locker room, because the evidence might not be admissible in court. If you choose to question your employee about the theft, they must consent to participate and be free to leave at any time. You cannot "imprison" them in your office. Any mistakes made during evidence collection may hurt your case if it does go to court.
You should not fire your employee immediately. They should be alerted to the fact that they are under investigation. You can suspend them during this time, but you should only fire them after the investigation is complete. If you're going officially fire someone for theft, you should have enough evidence to find them guilty. Suspicion is not enough. However, you may be able to change the wording a bit. For example, you can fire someone for a lack of confidence. Always be mindful of the words you use when you're firing an employee.
Finding out that someone is stealing from you can be an emotional experience. However, you have to keep a level head and follow the law at all times. For more information and assistance, consider hiring a private investigator, such as those at Blue Systems International, or contact a lawyer.
If you've recently moved into a new house and your neighbors are claiming you've infringed on their property line with your new fence, you may not know what to do. Sure, the idea of contacting a lawyer can be intimidating, but if your neighbors are insistent that you're on their property and you can't prove otherwise, an attorney may be the best choice. I created this site to help people just like you understand the laws surrounding property boundaries, real estate claims, and similar issues. I hope that the information here will give you some clarity as to whether or not you need to consult an attorney to protect your interests.