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Do's and Don'ts For Preventing Employee Theft

To reduce problems from employee theft, management should do the following:

DO communicate your policy that complete honesty is required in dealing with customers, fellow employees and the Company.

DO have management lead by example in showing that dishonesty will not be tolerated.

DO have a thorough control system to trace the handling and disposition of cash and items convertible into cash, including shipments in and out of your facilities.

DO insist that all employees especially management follow control procedures.

DO review your control system from time to time to find weak points that may leave you vulnerable to theft or embezzlement.

DO insist that cash receipts be deposited at least daily.

DO have proper rules and procedures for trash pickup.

DO have an experienced "embezzlement/theft team" to investigate and act on suspected incidents of theft or embezzlement.

DO know applicable state and federal laws regulating polygraph and other screening devices.

DO consider using monitoring devices on your trucks to track drivers' routes, stopping times, etc.

DO ask applicants about any criminal convictions and consider seeking a criminal history record request from the State Police.

DO keep information from criminal records confidential.

DO verify facts thoroughly before taking any adverse action based on any prior criminal record.

DO treat suspected incidents consistently, without favoritism or special treatment to any person or group.

DO know the ground rules in your collective bargaining agreement and/or personnel policies as they apply to the employee theft/embezzlement situation.

DO remember that proving employee theft or embezzlement will require proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

DO conduct an immediate and thorough investigation if you learn of a theft.

DO preserve original documents and physical evidence to prevent loss or alteration.

DO instruct all persons questioned, and all persons who learn of the investigation, that the investigation is strictly confidential.

DO remember, and instruct all concerned to remember, that the confidentiality instruction was given.

DO keep an open mind until proof beyond a reasonable doubt is obtained.

DO treat all persons interrogated in a professional, non-accusatory fashion.especially the suspect.

DO be patient and thorough when interrogating suspects.get the minute details and check them out.

DO advise employees in employment applications and personnel handbooks if you expect them, their lockers, lunch boxes or cars, to be subject to periodic searches.

DO obtain consent, in writing or in the presence of other witnesses, before searching any employee unless you know and follow the rules under which non-consensual searches may be made.

DO obtain an admission of theft or embezzlement in writing as soon as the suspect confesses.

DO insist on immediate restitution.

DO keep in mind that the thief or embezzler has almost certainly stolen or embezzled more than he has confessed.

DO consider consulting legal counsel before firing an employee for theft.

DO consult legal counsel before pressing criminal charges.

DO assume that you will have to take the lead in proving the theft or embezzlement.

DO keep restitution totally separate from the decision to press charges.

DO review your fidelity bond and give appropriate notice to your bonding company.

DO review your operations after any incident of suspected theft, and make appropriate revisions to your control and/or operating system.

To avoid legal problems arising from investigation of employee theft, an employer should not do the following:

DO NOT act on assumption or second hand information.

DO NOT tell an employee he is being fired for theft unless you are prepared to prove the theft beyond a reasonable doubt.

DO NOT press charges against a former employee unless you are prepared to prove those charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

DO NOT, as a general rule, fire an employee suspected of theft without first conducting a thorough investigation, including careful interrogation of the employee in an attempt to obtain a confession.

DO NOT expect an employee to confess theft or embezzlement when first confronted with incriminating evidence.

DO NOT ask employees about prior arrests or make decisions based on arrest records.

DO NOT promise or suggest that you will not prosecute if the employee makes restitution.

DO NOT assume that the police or prosecutor will properly investigate or prosecute any charges you press.

DO NOT directly or indirectly require, request, suggest, use, or inquire about polygraph tests without competent legal advice.

DO NOT disclose facts concerning an employee's misconduct or suspected misconduct unless the person to whom you reveal it has a clear need to know and you are prepared to prove the truth of what you disclose.

The McGuireWoods homepage is intended to provide information of general interest to the public and is not intended to offer legal advice about specific situations or problems. McGuireWoods does not intend to create an attorney-client relationship by offering this information, and anyone's review of the information shall not be deemed to create such a relationship. You should consult a lawyer if you have legal matter requiring attention. For further information, please contact a McGuireWoods lawyer. ) 2000 McGuireWoods LLP

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