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  • Writer's pictureJerry Ipsen, CFE, MBA

Investigate Before you Terminate

Updated: Mar 30, 2021


Employers who suspect theft or embezzlement need to investigate the matter prior to suspending or terminating an employee.

Terminating an employee on suspicion of stealing is serious, not only for the employee but for the employer. Because of the seriousness of the allegation, employees discharged for theft often bring wrongful termination claims. The likelihood of claim increases significantly if authorities are involved and charges against the employee are dismissed. As such, employers need to exercise special caution in such cases, and they must plan and execute investigations designed to stand up to any later wrongful discharge claims.

Even if termination is a foregone conclusion, it is far better to suspend the employee pending the outcome of an investigation.

Do Not hide baby monitors or listening devices in break rooms to try and catch employees talking about stealing.

Do Not prevent an employee from leaving the interview nor attempt to block their access to the exit.

Do Not go through an employee's purse or other personal belongings.

Do Not use a lie detector during an investigation of a monetary loss.


Do Not talk about theft, embezzlement or termination during the initial meeting with the employee. Rather, talk about an investigation into possible violations of company policies. It is better to suspend an employee pending the outcome of the investigation.


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