My Boss Is Stealing; Should I Speak Up?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about boss stealing:

My boss and other supervisors are stealing from the company that we work for. I have no way to really prove it, but we are talking big money–enough to buy new cars, go on cruises, and buying new tanning beds. I would say safely in the thousands of dollars. When just a few weeks ago they were having money problems one even said he was four months behind on a house payment. Since I have no proof, shouldn’t I really just keep me mouth shut?

My biggest fear is if the owner of the company were to come to me and ask me if I think something is going on. What then??? Tell him I THINK or still keep my mouth shut unless I have proof? I am also in management. Is it conflict of interest not to tell?

Signed, Should I Speak Up

Dear Should I Speak Up:

Thank you for sharing your concerns with us. Your message points out that most of the time employees know what’s going on in a business much more than bosses think they do! However, in this case, there is really nothing for you to do unless you have proof of a crime. The fact that someone who only a short time ago had financial difficulties seems to now be rolling in money, could mean a number of things–some criminal and some not. Your boss may have gotten all the equity out of his house to make payments and have extra cash. Some of the supervisors may be head over heels in debt. One may have cashed in all the stocks he had saved for retirement and another is using up his kid’s inheritance. Or they all might be selling drugs or siphoning money from the company. But unless something specific happens, you simply do not know. You certainly do not want to make accusations or make a report to someone higher up, if you are only acting on suspicions.I don’t know what kind of business you are part of, but generally there are bookkeepers and others who would notice large sums being misdirected.

If there is an owner or a corporation involved, there certainly would be restraints and checks of the system. If you have access to those books, perhaps you could inspect them yourself. You would know how money COULD be taken from the company on the sly. Perhaps you could do some investigation of your own. Just be aware that someone is likely to notice your efforts and that might have bad repercussions for you. If you think your own financial stability is threatened, that’s one thing. But otherwise, I would suggest you do nothing, since you have nothing to go on. If you are asked point blank if you think something is happening, you can truthfully say that you have wondered yourself, but you have no evidence of wrong doing. Or, you can say you have no evidence of wrongdoing and stop at that.

Perhaps as time goes on you will find out the source of the sudden money. If you know your boss or the others well enough and he has discussed his financial problems in the past, why not come right out and ask? “Gosh, Dave, just a few months ago you said you were having some problems with finances and now it sounds like things are going really well. How did you turn it around like that?” I can imagine that you will be curious, since most of us wonder where people whom we know aren’t wealthy get the money for a high-lifestyle. But, until you have a reason to suspect a crime, so that you can report it to the owners or the police, all you can do is wonder!I hope this perspective is helpful to you. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know if the matter resolves itself one way or the other.Concern for what is right and good for your workplace is thinking WEGO.

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.