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Firing suspected thief? Don’t broadcast the reason

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Employee theft is a huge problem, and employers are sometimes tempted to make an example of a thief. They hope to discourage other employees from stealing. It’s a bad idea, because the alleged thief may sue for defamation.

Instead, keep the information as confidential as possible. In the following case, the employer did everything right.

Recent case:
Christopher Mosley worked for Roadway Express at its Houston terminal. During a shift, someone stole a trailer loaded with plasma screen televisions. Surveillance tapes showed Mosley acting suspiciously, and management concluded he had shown the thief which trailer to take.

Roadway fired Mosley, and he sued, alleging defamation.

The court rejected his claim, noting the employer had kept the information confidential and shared it only with those who needed to make the termination decision. (Mosley v. Roadway Express, No. H-07-1406, SD TX, 2009)

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