Handling Employees Who Steal From Your Security Firm

Here are a few options on how to deal with employees who have allegedly stolen company equipment or damaged company property.

Sometimes the hardest part of being a security integrator has nothing to do with keeping your clients satisfied. Unfortunately, many times it’s dealing with a “bad apple” on your team. But one recourse that apparently is not an option is to withhold an employee’s final paycheck, even if that person has allegedly “stolen” company equipment or damaged company property.

That’s the advice from the expert law firm Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum in response to a question from an integrator. The dealer recently had an employee quit with no notice. The person, who had been with the company for just eight weeks, departed with company-owned items that were assigned to him. He also smoked in one of the company’s non-smoking vehicles, requiring it to be professionally cleaned.

“I know there are specific laws that apply to payment of employees, but I am getting tired of short- or long-term employees either failing to return tools, parts, equipment, or partially destroying the nice vehicles that we provide them,” wrote the anonymous dealer.

Unfortunately, according to Judge Ruth Kraft, retired administrative law judge and legal expert at Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum, an integrator cannot withhold money from a person’s paycheck.

“You can’t withhold from the final paycheck whatsoever. That is called wage theft these days and it is a violation of state labor laws,” she says. “If he didn’t return expensive items assigned to him, such as a laptop, you could sue in small claims court and get a judgment which could be enforced against him.”

But what about charging back the employee? In some states, like Colorado, the employer has “10 calendar days to audit and adjust the accounts and property value of any items entrusted to the employee before the employee’s wages or compensation shall be paid.”

But just because you can, does not mean you should, according to Kraft. She says that charge back will surely likely trigger a report to the state labor authority.
“If an employer charges back, the employee can go into an administrative proceeding under the 2014 changes and raise all sorts of other wage/hour issues. An employer who thinks that taking the deductions is a home run would be foolish,” she says. “Additionally, there would have to be an underlying agreement between the parties as to consequences and you can bet that, under FLSA, these will be scrutinized for fairness, opportunity to negotiate in good faith, adhesion, etc.”

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Tagged with: Business Management

About the Author


Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]

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