General Question

Shopowner's avatar

Should I replace an employees stolen property?

Asked by Shopowner (5points) March 8th, 2011

I run a small business, just about breaking even. One of my employees was recently alone in the shop, when two gypsys came in, pestered her a bit, and stole her ipod. Legally, I don’t think this is the employer’s responsibility, but do you think I should replace her ipod for her – as she did lose it in the course of her work to some extent?

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18 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Check and see if she has insurance for iPod, I have for my smartphone. The coverage is for loss, stolen, or damaged.

It’s not your responsibility — I can’t use an iPod at work.

Cruiser's avatar

File a police report and that way if those people who took her I-phone are ever apprehended and they have the Ipod, you will have record of the stolen item and possibly get it back after the court proceedings.

Coloma's avatar

It may not be your responsibility, but, you know, you could show a little generosity just because.
It would be a nice thing to do.

I’d also put some safety features in place like a security camera.

You should be grateful your employee was not harmed and be empathetic to her unhappy experience.

iamthemob's avatar

This is a good reason to have a policy, written, that employees are not allowed to have personal belongings on the floor and when dealing with customers.

I would draft up that policy. Also, if this was something that could happen again, I would look into seeing if you need to or can invest in some more or different security policies (you do want your employees to feel safe after all).

I think it would be wonderful of you to buy the employee a new ipod – it isn’t your responsibility at all, but the potential good will you could get from that employee could well outpace the dollar investment. ;-)

robmandu's avatar

On the one hand:

Not your responsibility. That’s her personal property that she may have been using on company time. Plus, she was irresponsible to leave it laying around.

Also, has she provided any real proof that these “gypsies” actually came in and actually stole it? Maybe she just lost it?

On the other hand:

Was she working late for you? Was she covering an extra shift? Is she an exemplary employee who regularly goes above and beyond in terms of her work ethic?

If she deserves recognition for a job well done, a new iPod might well be the perfect reward.

Summum's avatar

That is a wonderful idea to replace her Ipod and no it is not your responsibility but a happy employee is a productive one. Also it says alot about your character and I applaud you for that. I would also take the advice of some of the other responses and set up some rules and try and keep your place safe.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

It’s not your responsibility at all! Let her learn she shouldn’t have brought her iPod to work in the first place. Definitely don’t replace it.

iamthemob's avatar

I understand @BBSDTfamily‘s position – but you should also remember that the employee appears to have been possibly assaulted at her place of work. Dwelling on that could lead her to think that she should have been protected better…and you know what employees start thinking then…

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
missingbite's avatar

What kind of iPod was it? Shuffle or Touch? A new Shuffle is not that expensive. Also, what kind of business is this? Do you have an office or was she “robbed” away from an office setting?

gailcalled's avatar

Or, a generous but Solomnic decision. Pay for half the replacement and then put a written policy in place re @iamthemob

crazyivan's avatar

Here’s the solution that is least likely to bite you in the ass:

Don’t replace the ipod. Buy her a new one and explain that it is a gift for a good employee, not a replacement for the one that was stolen. You don’t want to put yourself in that position because eventually someone else will get something else stolen and they will expect you to replace it. You probably won’t and that will leave someone feeling like you’re playing favorites.

It’s not a precedent you want to set as an employer. Just as important is not making your employees think you’re a callous jerk. Buy her an ipod if you really feel guilty and want it replaced, but make it very clear that it is a gift from a friend, not a replacement from an employer.

The way you present it can make all the difference. If done right you are explaining that despite the fact that you are under no legal obligation to replace it (and have no existing policy that would demand it), you don’t want her to be unhappy and her happiness as an employee is worth $150 or so to you.

Keep in mind that under the circumstances (unless there are egregious ommisions of standard safety practice that you haven’t mentioned) you are under absolutely no obligation to replace it. Irrespective of some commenters vaguely suggesting you could be in trouble because the workplace was not safe enough or because precautions could have been taken that weren’t, fear not. There is no precedent in US history where an employer was held accountable because their employee got robbed. You would have to be all but intentionally making it an unsafe work place before anything like that would stick in court.

Whatever you do, don’t simply replace it without explaining the whole “I’m just being nice here” thing or you could get in legal trouble in the future if another employees property gets stolen (or the same employees property gets stolen again). Inconsistency in things like that can lead to claims or racism, sexism, favoritism, etc. and those are things that can bite you hard in court.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

@iamthemob You’re right, it could lead her to start thinking all sorts of things. It still doesn’t make it the owner’s responsibility to replace her iPod that she wasn’t required to bring to work in the first place though.

raven860's avatar

I agree with @Coloma response.

Also, I think you should gift her or show some kind of appreciation for this time. as after all she went through a harrowing experience. It will show her support and cheer her up perhaps.

You should then mandate a policy that personal belongings should be brought by the employee at their own risk or mandate a policy that does not allow them to bring them for their own “workplace safety”.

Then you should take necessary actions to help prevent this from happening again. Filling a police report, installing a camera or silent alarm etc.

Judi's avatar

Why would a person bring an iPod to work? (Maybe I’m old fashion but if someone has time to play with their iPod then you need to assign them more tasks. )

Blueroses's avatar

It rather depends on the circumstances. I also had my purse and ipod stolen from work because there was not a secure place to stow belongings and the job required leaving the counter at times. I wasn’t using my personal items “on the job” but had brought them when I walked to work.
My boss did replace the ipod and paid for my replacement driver’s license because she felt badly about the lack of security. She didn’t have to do it, of course but it made me feel much better about my employer. (we also got a locked closet for personal storage)

cak's avatar

I don’t see this as your responsibility. It may be goodwill on your side; however, if she was working in a shop, on her own…why the iPod?

She did go through a difficult experience, but you really aren’t responsible for replacing the item. I think I would give her a bonus, or something for going through what she went through; but I don’t think it should be labeled as replacing her iPod.

My wallet was stolen at a former workplace. The only place I had to store anything was in my office, which didn’t lock and neither did my desk. My employer really didn’t do anything to replace my wallet, but they did offer to call the police. I noticed we all had locks added to our doors, shortly thereafter.

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