If one of your employees commits a felony, you may have a legal duty to report the information to law enforcement authorities; and you may be committing a criminal act if you fail to do so.

Has a “felony” been committed? This question most commonly arises for employers in the case of employee theft. Although not every theft rises to the level of a felony, it may be a felony depending on the nature and value of the property stolen (e.g., theft of property valued at $500 or more is a felony).

As discussed earlier in this issue, during these difficult economic times, employee theft is on the rise. The following are a few potential theft indicators to watch for:

  • Only one individual is responsible for your business’ finances, with no system of checks and balances in place.
  • An employee in a key position refuses to take time off.
  • You notice unexplained inventory losses or a slow decline in profits over time.
  • An employee in a key position exhibits signs of financial distress.
  • You notice discrepancies in financial records.

If you discover that one of your employees has stolen from you, keep in mind that, under Ohio law, you are required to report a known felony to law enforcement authorities. Failing to do so is a fourth degree misdemeanor. Employers with knowledge of employee theft, or other conduct thought to be of a criminal nature, should consult legal counsel about their potential obligation to report the incident to law enforcement.