Employee theft is a very common occurrence for employers around the world. according to studies95% Go Tradesbeing robbed at work. For the victims, the consequences can be devastating. More than33% of all corporate failuresin the United States they are the result of employee theft and amount to US$50 billion in annual losses.
Fortunately, employers who discover an employee is stealing company funds have a few ways to mitigate their losses and prevent the theft.
An overview of employee theft laws in Texas
In Texas, an employee who steals Company funds or property is considered embezzlement and a felony. Texas embezzlement, penalties and defenses laws are codifiedTexas Criminal Code, Title 7, Chapter 31.
Elements of embezzlement under Texas law
The burden of proof in a case where an employee has stolen from the company rests with the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the employee:
- reasonable property;
- He intended to deprive the patron of property; It is
- He did this without the employer's consent.
Defense against embezzlement in Texas
Under Texas employee theft laws, individuals accused of a crime may present one or more possible defenses. Some common defenses against a criminal charge of corporate theft include:
- lack of intention.The employee had no intention of depriving the employer of any property.
- Approval.The employer has consented to the use or appropriation of property by the employee.
- Mistake.The employee did not have the necessary intention to deprive the owner of the property.
Penalties for theft in the workplace in Texas
A charge of embezzlement can result in a variety of possible penalties under Texas employee theft laws. The value of the stolen goods is decisive for the amount of the penalty:
- Less than $1,500: Offense punishable by up to 1 year in prison.
- Admission $1,500 and $20,000: State prison crime punishable by up to 2 years in a Texas state prison.
- Between $20,000 and $100,000: Third-degree offense punishable by imprisonment from 2 to 10 years.
- Between $100,000 and $200,000: Second-degree offense punishable by imprisonment from 2 to 20 years.
- $200,000 or more: First-degree crime punishable by imprisonment from 5 to 99 years.
When we think of employee theft, most of us imagine an employee stealing money from a company. For example, an employee taking cash from the register, using company credit cards for personal purchases, or a CFO embezzling money from company accounts. However, there are many different types of employee theft, ranging widely in complexity and severity.
Many cases involve some degree of fraud, not only in committing the crime but also in trying to cover it up. According to the experts,more than half of the employees thievesThey create fraudulent physical documents to cover their tracks while others alter physical and/or digital documents.
A less obvious but more common problem with employee theft is that the employee is stealing their employer's time. After research some75% of US companiesare affected by time theft every year. Time theft occurs when an employee is paid for time not worked. Below are some examples of employees stealing their employer's time.
- „hit friends.“An employee joins or leaves his colleagues. This form of time wasting costs American employers nearly $400 million a year.
- extended intervals. Employees take longer coffee or lunch breaks.
- personal activities. Employees perform activities unrelated to their job responsibilities while being paid by their employer. For example, calling a friend or surfing the Internet.
Discovery of an employee stealing from the company
While no employer wants to consider the possibility of a trusted employee stealing from the company, there are usually a few warning signs that something is wrong:
- Excessive personal spending. Overspending like buying luxury items and earning an average salary can be a warning sign that an employee is stealing money from a company.
- refuse leave. An employee who refuses to be away from the office for long periods of time may fear that their theft will be discovered while they are away.
- Close relationship with suppliers. An employee who has a close relationship with a supplier could be a sign of a bigger problem. A common form of theft involves employees colluding with one or more suppliers to overcharge the employer in exchange for bribes.
- Substance abuse or gambling problems. Gambling, like drug abuse, can cause employees to get into financial difficulties. Excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs can also impair an employee's ability to anticipate the consequences of illegal behavior.
- Large business expenses or small expense allowances. If you notice an employee spending more cash or accumulating higher business credit card bills, it could be a sign that the employee is embezzling funds for personal use.
There are many ways employees can steal from a company. Make sure you have the right processes in place to prevent theft, and always trust your gut when an employee's behavior seems suspicious.
How to deal with an employee who steals from the company
Restrict employee access
If you suspect an employee is stealing from your company, restrict their physical or digital access to the workplace. Not only do you want to prevent the employee from stealing more company money or property, you also want to prevent them from getting or tampering with sensitive data.
investigate the theft
Bring in an impartial person to investigate any suspected theft. Your emotions and personal opinions can make it difficult for you to look at the situation objectively. The investigator can be someone from another department who doesn't know the suspected employee, or an outside service provider.
Determination of the overall extent of damage
A single theft can be part of a larger plan. Look at everything the employee touched and had access to, and consider who else might have been involved.
Follow your company's policies
If the employee is still employed, it is important to follow your company's disciplinary policies. You usually meet with the employee and give him the opportunity to explain his behavior. It also helps ensure you fully document the incident and protect your rights.
contact the police
Contacting the police is important for several reasons. If your company has an insurance policy, you must first provide the insurance company with a copy of the police report. Second, under Texas worker theft laws, reporting theft can result in criminal charges. If convicted, the employee may be required by law to pay his employer compensation for his losses.
Observe the "need to know" rule
Be careful not to give in to the temptation to retaliate against the employee. Also, avoid speaking to other employees and third parties about the incident more than is necessary. If it turns out later that he made a mistake with the theft, he faces a possible defamation lawsuit.
keep detailed records
To protect your company's interests, you must retain relevant documents, emails and digital files. Also, document everything you learn when interviewing. Also, make sure you maintain a clear chain of custody to ensure evidence is not tampered with.
The more detailed your records are, the easier it will be to report the theft to the police, make an insurance claim, and take civil action against the employee and possibly a third party.
Knowing that a trusted employee has stolen from your company can be devastating. However, to protect your interests, you must remain calm. Follow the steps outlined in this article, as well as your organization's policies and procedures, to gather evidence, conduct a thorough investigation, and maximize your potential recovery.
Padua Law's experienced attorneys have helped countless business owners successfully resolve employee theft cases across the state of Texas. If your company has been the victim of employee theft,contact usGet a free consultation today to discuss your rights and options.