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Employee Theft: Legal Aspects - Legal Status Of Employee Theft

job pilfering criminal legitimate

Employee theft is a violation of the criminal law, a misdemeanor or felony depending upon the value of the goods taken. However, its legal status is clouded by its being an activity that has achieved legitimation, as a "job right," in its lesser forms. Employee theft has an unusually high immunity from prosecution in that most victims seek solutions other than through legal procedures. The victim's tacit approval of low level pilfering is often an important factor in the decision not to prosecute. Other factors are those of establishing proof, fear of charges of false arrest, and concern that theft will be viewed as a manifestation of poor management. In lieu of criminal prosecution, there are often civil arrangements requiring restitution and sometimes the termination of employment. For most workers, some level of pilfering is viewed as a legitimate or quasi-legitimate (not in the job description or work rule manual) job right. Thus, the workers are spared having to view their pilfering as a crime and having to view themselves as criminal (Greenberg; Hollinger and Clark; Horning; Robin; Shepard and Duston; Snyder).

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