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 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)
- Arbitrating claims? Chances are appeals court will uphold decision
- Management meeting counts as work time
- Investigation points back to employee who complained? It's OK to punish her, too
- Punish bosses who don't report harassment
- Appeals court expands free speech protection for employees of government agencies