No matter how well you screen your employees before hiring, it is impossible to predict with total accuracy or to control completely what their actions will be. Since many “middleman” positions have been eliminated in business, and employees have less supervision and more free reign in their actions. It is a sad fact of life that some employees engage in illegal activity in the workplace, and that could seriously impact you, and the future of your business.
A business employing individuals who commit fraud or other illegal acts is left open to the possibility of criminal charges or civil lawsuits. Your best course of action as a business owner is to consult with an experienced business and commercial litigation lawyer who can help you devise a plan and put policies in place to protect yourself and your business from the fallout of employees’ illegal actions. At Kerkman Wagner & Dunn, our Milwaukee business attorneys offer litigation solutions for our business and corporate clients.
Types of Illegal Activity Common in the Workplace
Anything is possible when the human element is involved. Employees under extreme stress in their personal lives may commit acts in the workplace they wouldn’t otherwise consider. Others may set out to commit fraud for personal gain in a deliberate and calculated manner. Some illegal employee actions include:
- Violence or threats of violence against other employees, clients, or customers
- Theft of funds from employer, clients, or customers
- Use of the internet in the workplace to traffic in pornographic materials
- Harassment or threats against other employees via workplace email
- Theft of proprietary information from employers
- Trademark or copyright infringement
- Sexual harassment
- Racial or ethnic discrimination
Employee Fraud in the Workplace
Employee fraud is a threat to many businesses. The recent story of Abacus Federal Savings Bank as covered in the New York Times is a classic example of how employee fraud can affect employers and threaten the future of a business.
Internal fraud is more common in small businesses where misplaced trust or a permissive environment exists. Occupational fraud can involve misappropriation of cash or misappropriation of other assets. Factors contributing to white collar crimes in the workplace include:
- Motive: The employee may have a drug or gambling problem or other pressing financial issues.
- Means: The employee’s skills and position allow him or her to work with cash or other assets.
- Opportunity: Lack of internal controls, or simply unmerited trust in an employee, can create an environment conducive to fraud.
- Rationalization: The employee finds a way to justify the fraud in his or her own mind — he deserves to be paid more, was passed over for promotion, etc.
Business and Commercial Litigation Attorney in Milwaukee
At Kerkman Wagner & Dunn, we represent Fortune 500 companies, local small business owners, shareholders, owners, LLCs, and individuals involved in business disputes. Our Wisconsin trial attorneys have mediated, arbitrated, and litigated a wide range of business legal matters.
If you and your business are facing legal issues resulting from the illegal actions of employees, contact our office today. We have the depth of knowledge and experience to handle all your business and commercial needs.