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Employee Theft: Behavioral Aspects

Ancient Or Modern Problem, Terms Used To Describe Employee Theft, Characteristics Of The Employee Thief

The term employee theft refers to the unauthorized taking, transfer, or use of property of a work organization by an employee during the course of work activity. Straightforward as it seems, the application of the definition to employees' activity is complicated by two essential problems. The first centers on the issue of what is meant by unauthorized taking. If the activity is prohibited by company policy (formal norms) but sanctioned by the work-group and work-culture (informal norms), is it unauthorized taking? Technically and legally it is; operationally it may or may not be dependent on other elements of the work-group norms that prescribe and proscribe the behavior. The second problem in applying the definition to practice centers on the question of what constitutes company property. Not only are there several types of property in an organization—company, personal, and property of uncertain ownership (e.g., items in a wastebasket, unsolicited samples from vendors)—there are also forms of company property that do not ordinarily enter into the traditional calculus of employee theft. The latter might include the use of facilities and equipment for personal use—personal phone calls, typing personal correspondence on company computers, the use of sick leave for personal days off, or the theft of work time through simply "goofing off." In defining employee theft one needs to consider carefully what is meant by unauthorized taking and what property is included in the activity defined as theft (Greenberg; Hollinger and Clark; Horning).


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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal Law