Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about reporting theft:
I work for a property management company. We have several property owners. My boss is one owner and there is no one higher up. My question is: on several occasions my boss has told me her husband stole money from deposit on apartments and rent that was paid in cash. Should the owners be told? I have no proof, but the owner would, if she looked closely at their records. I should mention that the husband comes and goes as he pleases.
You face an ethical issue: should you disclose what was told you in confidence by your superior, information for which you have no proof? To accuse someone, even to repeat something for which you have no proof, is risky, and to go around your boss, who is one of the owners, can put you at risk both with her and other owners. To not do so might hurt your company. Are there other options, such as speaking with boss? You have good reason to tell her you are now worried about what she told you of theft on more than one occasion.
Even to raise this matter with your boss will take courage, but you can be up front about that with her saying that since she told you that now weighs on your conscience and also now it implicates you in wrongdoing. Such a conversation undoubtedly will surface that she too is worried or she would not have disclosed this information. She too knows that this theft might be discovered, and if so, she and her husband could be in real trouble. But if it is corrected, that could be prevented.
If you were in your boss’s shoes, would you not prefer for this matter is brought to you first rather than to hear about it second hand because someone bypassed you taking it to a partner or someone else? Is there not a regular practice to check the books and deposits–such as daily, weekly, monthly audits? Sound business practices should be in place for your company. How can this kind of theft occur unbeknown? Your own boss should be concerned that whatever there is or is not accounting for money coming in should be corrected. Might there be a way to alert the one who keeps the books that sound procedures should be put in place and followed, if they are not now? You would know this better than I could from this distance.
Another question that pertains to this–is there any way that missing money might be blamed on you? If so, you have more of a reason to deal with this soon. After thinking through these questions, hopefully you will find the courage to do what you think is right. I’m sure you are worried about this. Reflect on this matter. Possibly get outside counsel; then make a decision. Don’t gossip about it with anyone. To hold this within may be the choice you make; however, silence might implicate you and/or stress your working relationships.Working together is not simply doing one’s job. It is an interdependent, moral matter. When honesty is in question, trust is damaged and the success and survival of every business hinges on trust. You are wise to ask the question you posed. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes courage and makes big WEGOS. Will you keep us posted on what you do and how this dilemma is resolved?