To be accused of office theft, no matter how petty, is considered a stain on your career and may prevent you from reaching your career goals. Questions on your morality, trustworthiness and professionalism will surely arise. Relationships between you and your coworkers will also be affected. Your professional relationship with your superiors will also suffer. These may all affect your performance at work and may affect your career in the long run. Thus, it is only fitting to clear one's name if accused of theft.
Below are some steps to take if you find yourself in the position of workplace false allegations of theft.
1. Prepare a Documented or Written Report
As soon as you learn you are being accused of theft, prepare a well-written report about it. Include how you knew you were accused, who accused you of theft, what was the stolen material and why you were the one being accused. These information may come from the office grapevine and may also be formally given by the Human Resource Department. If there is a formal complaint against you, attach the complaint to the report. In the report, clearly state your denial of the crime. For theft cases, it is important to note your whereabouts during the crime and your knowledge of the stolen item. Make your report as comprehensive yet as relevant as possible.
2. Talk to Your Immediate Supervisor
Schedule a meeting with your immediate supervisor as soon as possible. Some employees make the mistake of bypassing their supervisors which may cause conflict with upper management. Take time to talk to your supervisor. Clarify the workplace false allegations of theft. Give him/her a copy of your report. Ask what is the best thing to do about the accusations. At the same time, make it clear that you want your name to be clarified in a professional manner. If the accusations are within a department, this can be solved by your supervisor through a case meeting or an official statement. However, if this is an inter-departmental issue, be prepared to have a case conference with the human resource department. Just make sure that your immediate supervisor is aware of what's going on with the case. Your supervisor can be your strongest professional ally who can vouch for your credibility.
3. Request a Meeting with the HR
It is important to set a meeting with the human resource department. They are the ones who are in the right position to help
you with your case. Give a copy of your report and clearly state your side of the matter. Ask for a possible meeting with the one who accused you of stealing in which a human resource personnel will facilitate. A case meeting may help you resolve conflicts with the other party. If the other party is not willing to meet for some reason, there are two things that you can rightfully do. First, you can request the HR to make an official statement about your unproven crime. You are being accused but this does not mean that you are guilty. Second, you can request for an in-house investigation. This may take time but it will definitely help you clear your name.
4. Request an Investigation
Legally, it is an employee's right to request an investigation of workplace allegations of theft. Theft is a major crime in the workplace. Investigations may be a grueling process. It may also take time to restore your relationship with the other party due to mistrust and hurtful accusations. The bottom line of an investigation is to legally prove that you are not guilty of theft. Always keep in mind to maintain a professional manner with all the proceedings. Avoid talking about the case to other coworkers. Even with your accusers, maintain a professional attitude. All these will help you if an investigation happens.