Q: We have good reason to suspect an employee has been stealing from the register. How should we respond?
A: An internal investigation generally includes interviewing any employee who may be involved and any potential witnesses about what they saw. We would recommend suspending this employee and conducting an internal investigation. You may also want to report the theft to law enforcement depending on the circumstances.
In the investigation, you’re looking for firsthand knowledge, not rumors or speculation. If you have video surveillance, it should be included in your investigation file. Even if the accused employee fails to cooperate, you should still investigate as best you can and document your good faith efforts.
During the interviews, ask the employees for general information about what they know or what they saw. Formulating questions in advance helps ensure that your investigation remains unbiased and open-ended. When interviewing co-workers, be sure not to disclose which employee you suspect of stealing.
These interviews should be confidential to the extent reasonable and conducted in a discreet manner. It’s also good to have a manager or HR Representative in the interviews to serve as a third-party witness and take detailed notes. This documentation may prove helpful if the company is ever challenged regarding this situation and its outcome.
If the results of the investigation reveal that an employee did in fact engage in theft, you may opt to terminate the employee.
Learn these 5 mistakes to avoid during a termination meeting by watching our free, 30-minute webinar. Also, get practical tips on how to approach the meeting, conducting the meeting, and communicating the termination to your employees.