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CASE LAW: Here's what to do if you can't identify a thief in the workplace

by , 12 August 2016
CASE LAW:  Here's what to do if you can't identify a thief in the workplaceThieving employees are a huge issue to countless businesses across the country, but not for the reason you'd expect.

You see, while stealing from you is definitely the cause for concern, complications arise because, more often than not, you can't identify the guilty employee.

That's right! You may have the most sophisticated security measures in place, but thieves can be pretty smart too, and can often avoid them.

So what can you do in a situation like this? Well, the following case may shed some light on the matter...

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CASE LAW:  Here's what to do if you can't identify a thief in the workplace 


In this case, Chauke & Others v Lee Service Centre CC t/a Leeson Motors (1998) 19 ILJ 1441 (LAC) and RSA Geological Services (a division of De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd) vs Grogan & Others (2008) 2 BLLR 184 (LC) the employer was struggling with theft in the business, but couldn't identify the perpetrator. But he had a strong feeling that other employees knew about it. So he went ahead and did what any other employer would do in a similar situation – he conculted with the employees to help identify the culprit.

But none of the employees were willing to identify the culprit, even though the employer had sufficient evidence to suggest they did in fact know who was to blame.

What the court then decided was that dismissing the entire group for not helping the employer was justified, because the relationship between employees and employers is ultimately built on trust.
 
What can you learn from this case?

If you are struggling with theft in your business, and have evidence to suggest that employees might know who the culprit is, then you may dismiss them if they refuse to help you identify the culprit.

But remember to also consult with a legal expert before making any final decisions here.
 

*To learn more on dismissals, page over to Chapter D 01 in your Practical Guide to Human Resources Management today, or click here to order your copy today. 

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