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What to Do When Accused of Theft at Work

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on December 14, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you are accused of theft at work, try to stay calm and to sort out what is happening. What steps to take will depend on what is going on in your specific situation.

Have you been fired? Have you been charged with a crime? Did you do the things you are accused of? Have you been asked to take a lie detector test or submit to some questioning? The context of the accusation makes a big difference. Also, keep in mind, that criminal charges might be in the offing, so though you may want to shout from the rooftops that you are innocent, saying little may be smartest.

Nothing to Hide?

It is often said that people who have nothing to hide do not mind being questioned. That is not the case. Even if you did nothing wrong and have nothing to hide, you would be right to be wary and defensive when accused of theft.

The Houston Chronicle suggests speaking to your employer immediately to try to clear up any misunderstanding. From a legal perspective, that is not necessarily wise. If you are called in to a meeting to explain anything, do your best to find out what supposedly happened. But do not be in a rush to talk.

If you did nothing wrong and can explain yourself calmly and your employer is reasonable, maybe talking will help clear up any misunderstandings. Or maybe it will create more of them. Explain to your employer that you have done nothing wrong but that you need to see whatever evidence is available and to understand what is being claimed.

You may be entitled to see your employee file and copy documents if you were not terminated. Ask for all the surveillance and documentation that is being used to show theft, make copies, and take them to a lawyer.

If you are asked to take a lie detector test, you have the right to 48-hours notice and to refuse. Even if you think taking the test will clear your name, consider speaking with an attorney before agreeing to engage.

Consult With Counsel

Whether or not you actually committed a crime, dealing with an accusation of wrongdoing is extremely difficult for the accused. You do have to protect yourself when you are under attack, and an accusation of theft at work comes close to that. Counsel can help you plan your approach to the situation, whatever the specifics.

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