I think that an employee is stealing from me. Advice sought.

I own a retail store. Without going into too many identifying details, I am 100% sure that $40 is missing out of the cash bag from this weekend. My business partner is sure who did it. I am not as sure. However, this employee has demonstrated deceptive behavior in the recent months with regard to other issues.

I feel like we have a few options:
[li]Fire the employee outright citing other reasons, not the theft, for her firing.[/li][li]Hire a polygrapher and test each employee. I think this will destroy our relationships with the innocent employees.[/li][li]I happen to know that there is a warrant out for her arrest for an unrelated incident. Would it be wrong to call in an anonymous tip to the police and tell them when she is working next? Then I could fire her with cause for being arrested at work and not have to deal with the stealing issue.[/li][/ol]
I’m open to pretty much any questions as long as I can stay anonymous. What is your opinion on what I should do?

What’s the warrant for? Theft?

Calling the authorities on the warrant seems underhanded. If she was an employee you wanted to keep, would you turn her in?

If you can prove she took the money, then prove it and fire her. If the “other issues” are valid and justify termination, then let her go.

(You should probably consult with your attorney before doing anything.)

In a sense. Her bank account is overdrawn by several hundred dollars. Keep in mind that I pay well above average and she SHOULD have paid them back by now.

Do forgive my ignorance, I have never been a manager, but why not

  1. Fire here, citing no reason whatsoever


You’re probably making a bit of an unnecessary value judgement there. Not blaming you, but you need to play this straight, and that means - CALL YOUR LAWYER.

If I am your employee, the fact that you suspect I stole $40 does not make me guilty of it, and my bank balance is not your concern. Watch me in future, catch me, and then think about firing me.

I would fire her for the other things she has done and not mention the money. If you know for a fact that she is the one that took the money don’t even give her a chance to work another shift. Fire her the moment she next walks in the door. But if you are not sure if she took the money or the other things aren’t enough to fire her for, I would just cut back her hours, tell her that you are being forced to make some scheduling changes, and wait for her to quit. That is a crappy thing to do to an employee, but that at least will give her a chance to look for a new job while still having at least a little income. And don’t leave her alone with the money again.

This was my question. Most American states are “at will” states, meaning you don’t have to have a reason for firing her. It seems you’ve already made up your mind that this is what you want to do, so why not just do it?

If you were genuinely concerned with establishing whether or not she actually took the money, i might have some other advice to offer, but you seem to have made up your mind already, and don’t really seemed worried about a fair process of determining guilt.

And if i were one of your honest employees, and you wanted me to take a polygraph over a missing $40, i’d tell you to go fuck yourself and quit the job.

It was my understanding that if you fire an at-will employee without due cause, and that employee files for unemployment benefits, you might end up paying out…

I haven’t made up my mind about anything. My business partner has. I do have enough other reasons to fire her, but I HATE to fire people and I think she is a good person at the core. I disagree with her decision about her bank account. I guess I would agree that it’s none of my business, but she TOLD ME about it, thus involving me. I think that since my business partner has lost all trust in her (from other deceptive practices as well), we will be forced to fire her in the end. And yes, we are a right to work state. We don’t need a reason. But we are such a close knit organization - when we fire someone it just disrupts the whole dynamic.

I would love ideas about determining guilt. I’m just so angry and hurt that one of my employees has put me in this position. I try so hard to be a good boss. Any ideas that anyone has, please do tell. I feel like I AM the fair one between my partner and I - maybe I’m just naive in thinking someone would not do this to us.

What is that crazy statistic about what percentage of Americans would steal if given the chance (and it was unlikely they would get caught)? It left me speechless when I first heard it.

I’m not sure how helpful you’ll find this, but you might try doing a search on “retail loss prevention” and see if you can find anything useful pertaining to proving guilt or getting her to spill on her own, through questioning her.

Good luck.

If she has an outstanding warrant, and you are aware of this, and fail to inform authorities, what are your legal liabilities?

Talk to your lawyer. They’re there to answer such questions.

I was going to suggest this too…

Also, you need to create plans/policies such that an employee can’t anonymously steal from you again…could be a security camera, a lockbox, making two people responsible for the money, whatever, but you should do something.

I don’t know your location and cannot comment on the legality of surveillance, yadda, yadda. Talk to your local friendly lawyer first. If they bless it, you can install video cameras in a variety of locations, many such cameras being all but impossible to detect. I recently did so for a client who proved why stock was growing feet. Ensure that anything you do is legal beforehand.

$40? Hell, that can just be a miscount or giving some dude the wrong change. BFD. Now, if it happens over and over, then something is wrong.

Polygraph?!? :rolleyes: Why not have them pull a bar of iron from boiling water and see if they become scalded? The Polygraph is 90% psuedo-science bullshit.

If you don’t trust her, just lay her off, let her go. Let her collect UC and when asked by future employers why she was asked to leave, give only her job title and period of employment. IANAL, this is pure one time business owner advice.

Can’t be a miscount or wrong change. Have very sophisticated POS system to monitor that.

Polygraph was my partner’s idea. I already said that it would screw up our relationships with our innocent employees.

$40 isn’t a big deal, but it’s the principle of the thing. Hell, if an employee had asked me for $40 I would have GIVEN it to him/her.

Calling tomorrow.

When deciding between incompetence and malice, go for incompetence.

Bear in mind that $40 might be a simple screw-up. How easy is it to accidentally give a $50 note as change when you meant to give a $10 note? Are the till drawers for these notes next to each other?

Perhaps a reasonable first step would be to remind everyone to be careful when giving change?

Nobody likes to fire people – it is, however, part of the job of being the boss.

And whether she’s a good person “at the core” or not is irrelevant – if she’s stealing from you, her behavior should not be tolerated. Think what kind of message you’re giving to the other employees if you don’t fire her.

My boss has frequently stuck a $50 bill into the wrong slot, especially when it is given with other bills. But getting a $50 bill at all is an infrequent thing. Do you do regular cash counts throughout the day so that you can narrow the window of the error or theft down a bit closer? Maybe it’s time to start doing that.