Employers liability for an employee theft?

This is a discussion on Employers liability for an employee theft? within the Accidents and Injury Law Questions forums, part of the Legal Questions & Answers Forum category; Is an employer liable for his employees if they steal from a customer? I left my wallet on the counter of a convenience store. The customer behind me saw it ...

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  1. #1
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    Employers liability for an employee theft?

    Is an employer liable for his employees if they steal from a customer?

    I left my wallet on the counter of a convenience store. The customer behind me saw it and picked it up. She gave it to the counter employee for safe keeping and told him that I had left it. She mentioned there was a lot of cash in it and also pointed me out in the parking lot as I was leaving. He took it and put it on a back counter.

    The security cameras caught him setting up the wallet so he could block the camera view and take it. He did not realize there were hidden cameras along with the obvious ones. He removed the money and put the wallet in a drawer. The employer fired him the day after we viewed the video together. The wallet had $1200 in it, which is felony theft in NC. I had the arresting officer give him the option of "return the money with no charges" or "press charges". He chose to go to court.

    He has a long prior record with 4 misdemeanors and 1 felony. His case was heard and the DA let them plea down to misdemeanor theft and time served. I objected, but it seems victims have no say in our legal systems plea deals. He was on parole at the time, and is now completing his prior sentence.

    He has no possible way to provide restitution. Does the convenience store employer hold any liability for the theft? They knew he was a prior felon. And they have no employee policy manual.

    If yes, can I legally send them a demand letter the same way I would for an auto accident demand letter to an insurance company?

    Thanks in advance for any help.

    Dan
    Willow Spring, NC


  2. #2
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    No the employer holds no liability for the employee stealing your money. The theft was outside the scope of his employment, it is safe to presume.

  3. #3
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    Can you tell me where these arguments against your conclusion would be wrong?

    To establish a liability on a theory of respondeat superior, an injured party must show (1) that there is an employer-employee relationship between the alleged wrongdoer and the company from whom relief is sought, (2) that the employee committed a wrongful act, and (3) that the wrongful act occurred in the scope of employment.
    1. Wouldn't 'vicarious liability' apply to the employer.

    2. They knowing hired a felon and put him in position which put customers in jeopardy of theft.

    3. The wallet was given to an employee for 'safe keeping' by a customer. Wouldn't the stores employees (an agent of the employer) acceptance of the wallet, which most stores do on a regular basis, constitute their acceptance of liability to keep it safe? If not, shouldn't there be an employee policy to tell a 'customer finder' to keep it, or call the police, or contact the lost item owner themselves?

    4. No employee policy manual exists.

    5. Under the General Statutes it's against the law to keep the wallet. You are required to call the police and turn it in. Shouldn't the employer have an established policy that instructs employees to do that? Not doing that is neglagence? When I realized where I left it, it was 36 hours later and they had it in a unlocked drawer behind the counter.

    For #5 I should explain: When the employee took the wallet he emptied it of all the cash except $3 and an shortly after tuned it into another employee saying he found it on the floor. At that point shouldn't it have been reported to the police at the very first opportunity? The surveillance video showed 2 police officers, on separate occasions within 2 hours, coming to the counter.

    To me, this whole instance stinks of a lack of employee policy which puts negligence in the employers lap.

    Thanks again for your help.
    Dan
    Last edited by ddrdan; 07-06-2012 at 12:39 PM.


 

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