Coworker Told Me and Others That She Is Stealing

Question:

A coworker is stealing from the company and is bragging about it. What should I do?

Signed,

Honest


Answer:

Dear Honest:

You don’t say what the stealing involves. If it is merely stealing by not doing as much work as she is paid to do, that may be something you should just leave to a supervisor to discover. But, if you are referring to a real theft of money, items or even small things in the office, you should report the conversations to your boss.

If you know a crime is being committed but don’t report it to your supervisor or manager, you will probably end up being fired, once the truth comes out. Keep in mind that if the coworker is bragging to YOU, she is probably bragging to someone else–and they may report it, leaving you to look dishonest.

In addition to that reality, is the fact that you can rate your own ethics and character by how you handle situations like this. If the coworker was talking about a small issue, that would be one thing. But apparently she is talking about a crime or at the very least, a major violation of rules.

So, obviously I think you should report what you have been told. Your first obligation is to your own ethics, then to your employer, and you have no obligation to someone who would brag about doing something criminally wrong that harms her employer–the one who pays her salary. Even if it turns out she was all talk, she must not have a good character if she would talk in that way.

This may be a bit tough, but keep this in mind: If your coworker hadn’t done something wrong, she wouldn’t have something to brag about and if she hadn’t bragged you wouldn’t have known. So, she is the one who put you in a bad situation, not the other way around.

Best wishes as you make the right choice.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.