All that and a bag of chips – but don’t forget to pay for them

Intellectually-limited worker not guilty of theft, but he compounded honest mistake by panicking and trying to come up with a story
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 05/13/2015

Theft of the employer’s property is one of the most serious forms of misconduct an employee can do. It breaches the trust that is usually an essential part of the employment relationship and also strikes at the heart of the employer’s business – the ability to make money. So when an employee is caught stealing something at work, it’s not surprising if serious discipline and even dismissal are the result.

But theft isn’t always grounds for dismissal, and sometimes what seems like theft may be an honest mistake. Mitigating factors should always be taken into consideration when it comes to determining how to deal with an employee who’s taken something they should have. And if the employee has impaired mental functions, there’s a good chance the bar for dismissal is extra high. What seems like theft could just be an honest mistake. Or at least if an employer can’t prove otherwise, it likely can’t prove just cause.