Overview: Dealing with property theft is part of a good risk management plan. Even small, seemingly harmless theft of property can become significant financial loss over time and across the entire employee population. So, while taking small office supplies, such as paper and pens, once in a while might not seem like a big deal to an employee, it becomes one when multiplied by the life of an individual's employment and the number of employees who also take home office supplies. Add this to bigger, more deliberate thefts of which employers often find themselves victim and it is easy to see the necessity of guarding against all property theft within the workplace.
One of the first things that an employer should do is to create a clear policy defining theft in the workplace and the punishment for it. Clearly communicating this can be a deterrent in and of itself. There are many other security measures that employers can implement to make stealing harder, such as limiting access to commonly stolen items and creating checks-and-balances systems. Another way to avoid theft is to make employees feel valued and appreciated because employees that feel this way are less likely to steal from the workplace.
When it comes to guarding against property theft, an employer must comply with a number of laws. For example, before setting up a video surveillance system, it is important to know any state privacy laws that could affect where cameras may be placed, whether audio recording is allowed and whether employees must be notified of the surveillance.
Trends: An employer must be careful when using background checks during the hiring process as a means to weed out potential thieves. Several states and cities have laws prohibiting employers from asking about arrests, from asking about convictions on a job application form and from conducting credit checks for all positions.
Author: Melissa Gonzalez Boyce, JD, Legal Editor
Under review in relation to recent NLRB legal developments; revised statement and guidance to ensure that the provisions do not conflict with an employer’s arbitration program and to address the Defend Trade Secrets Act.
Updated to include retaliation protections in the domestic violence leave law, effective January 1, 2018.
Updated to include amendments regarding the smoking of marijuana in the workplace, to the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment Act of 2016, and to the Arkansas Whistleblower Act, effective July 31, 2017.
Revised policy to specify that video cameras in the Company’s lactation areas are prohibited.
Updated to include retaliation protections in the state right to request law, effective September 1, 2016.
Updated to include retaliation protections under the state's pregnancy accommodations law, effective August 10, 2016.
A divided 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the criminal conviction of a man who accessed his former employer's database to gain proprietary information by using a former co-worker's username and password.
Updated to reflect discipline concerns under the Workplace Privacy Act, effective July 21, 2016.
Updated to reflect the Defend Trade Secrets Act, effective May 11, 2016.