When You Are Falsely Accused of Stealing or Fraud at Work

employee-accused-of-stealingHere is one common mistake that an employee who is falsely accused of stealing or fraud or any other serious violation at work makes – he gets really angry and he confronts his manager about the accusations. Sometimes this confrontation takes place by e-mail and sometimes in person. Besides denying the allegations, the accused employee tells the employer that there is a conspiracy against him at work, that he is being framed on purpose, that the management is corrupt and they are just trying to screw him out of the job. He might also “spice it up” by saying how much he hates the company or how much he wishes he could quit.

Although the above frustration and response to false accusations is understandable, it’s never a good idea to respond that way for several reasons:

1. In most cases, false accusations at work are not illegal, as unfair and as hurtful any such accusation might be. Even if you are suspended or even terminated based false accusations of fraud, theft or any other violations, this will not give rise a wrongful termination case except in limited, specific circumstances, where you may have a valid defamation claim based on those accusations. This means, that arguing or threatening your employer with a lawsuit is in most cases pointless, not to mention that this rarely normalizes relationships between a manager and his subordinate.

2. If there is an opportunity to clear your name, it will certainly not be accomplished by sending angry e-mails or arguing with your management in an attempt to prove that you are right and you are wrong. You are much better off remaining calm and courteous at all times. Avoid finger pointing or accusing others of conspiring against you. Trying to convince your management that the only reason you are accused of something is because someone is trying to screw you, you usually unproductive and will hurt your chances of proving your point and not being fired much more than help.

Instead, fully cooperate with any investigation. Be completely open and transparent with your employer and help them see for themselves that you haven’t done anything wrong through objective facts rather than heated arguments.

As mentioned earlier, in some cases a false accusation against you may give rise to a legitimate defamation claim (slander/libel) and wrongful termination. Your manager might falsely accuse you of a violation and defame you in retaliation for your discrimination or harassment complaints in an attempt to get you fired or at least disciplined, or at the very least discouraging you from any future complaints by reminding you who is in charge.

Your management might also try to set you up through false accusations because you have been a “pain” due to too many FMLA or disability leave requests, or because you raised other issues with them, such as safety, payment of wages, etc. Any such attempts to frame you are considered retaliatory and illegal. You should consult with an experienced employment attorney to determine whether the facts of your situation support a defamation claim, retaliation and other possible claims.