Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.
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LIMOUSINE, CHARTER & TOUR SEPTEMBER 2016 57 Types of Thefts Employees in our industry find many ways to steal. It can be as simple as tak- ing a ream of paper to stealing cash, gas, or even clients. You have to be careful to gather evidence supporting your claim, or your employee could file a defama- tion suit against you. Defamation of char- acter includes slander which is when a person's reputation or good name is damaged as a result of oral statements. It also includes libel that occurs when false statements about a person are written. The Investigation Before you decide to call law enforce- ment, you should investigate internally any alleged or suspected theft that in- cludes dates, incidents, witnesses, rea- soning, and all other factors document- ed to present to law enforcement if you take that route. Consider starting your investigation with writing down who, what, when, where, why and how. In- vestigate each of the components be- fore deciding on an action. Don't Touch The Paycheck Although you might prove through documented evidence a driver has sto- len fuel using your company credit card, do not be tempted to deduct the value from their final paycheck. This is illegal. Although you may be due the money, federal law dictates you cannot withhold any amount other than withholding taxes from an employee's paycheck without a written agreement. The proper venue for retrieving your money is in a courtroom where a judge will order the employee to pay restitution if the court determines the employee is guilty. Deciding To Call Law Enforcement If your thorough investigation confirms a theft occurred, you must decide whether What To Do When An Employee Steals By Jim A. Luff, LCT contributing editor to report it to law enforcement. On one hand, employees in the company will know you mean business if they rip you off. On the other hand, you may be re- quired to go to court and testify against your employee. Law enforcement will in- vestigate as well, and require you to pro- vide documents, meet with investigators, and prove your allegation before they decide whether to turn the case over to the District Attorney. The D.A. will then decide whether to press charges against the employee. This will take a lot of time. Is the purpose in reporting it to the po- lice to get restitution? Do you think the employee will be capable of the restitu- tion? Is the amount significant enough to spend the time pursuing prosecution? Only you can decide. Stealing Clients This is an unfortunate situation that of- ten happens in this industry. A chauffeur or driver either leaves or starts a com- pany, and then solicits your clients to jump ship as well. Even the best written non-compete agreements are difficult to enforce, and the cost to drag your for- mer employee into court along with cli- ents who left will cost you thousands of dollars in court and attorney fees. If you lose, you could be ordered to pay the cost of defense for the former employee. It is a risky gamble. Sending A Message Whether you report the theft or dismiss the employee, you should tell your staff about it and the results. This sends a mes- sage that theft will not be tolerated and you monitor the actions of employees. Smooth Operations provides a broad range of information focused on new ideas and approaches in management, human resources, customer service, marketing, networking and technology. Have something to share or would like covered? You can reach LCT contributing editor and California operator JIM LUFF at Jim@LCTmag.com. SMOOTH OPERATIONS I SEPTEMBER 2016 You must act, but don't end up on the wrong end of a lawsuit. Consider starting your investigation with writing down who, what, when, where, why and how. Investigate each of the components before deciding on an action. PHOTO/ILLUSTRATION: KEVIN HAEGELE, LCT ART DIRECTOR