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WA Workplace Bullying - Accused of Theft by Employer?

Discussion in 'Employment Law Forum' started by JohnD, 24 June 2016.

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  1. JohnD

    JohnD Active Member

    23 June 2016
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    Am I being bullied out of my job? Apologies in advance for the long thread but the greatest appreciation for any help :(
    I am a casual employee working 20/30+ hours weekly for over a period of 17 months as a bar attendant. I work for a company that is mostly owned by a larger reputable corporate chain. I am 90% sure I am covered under an award "HIGA 2010".

    I have recently been accused of product theft by my boss which was brought to his attention by a staff member who was told by another staff member. Upon arrival to work, I was confronted by 2 different staff members informing me my boss has been telling other staff that he has a meeting with me (of which I was totally unaware of).

    After approaching my boss & asking him if he wanted to chat with me, I'm taken to the back office where it is just the two of us.

    (Below is the conversation)

    Boss: "Is there anything you want to tell me about the other night?"

    ME: "No, why?"

    BOSS: (names the Top shelf bottle I have been accused of stealing).

    I confess to consuming a shot of alcohol while working, thinking maybe he has his wires crossed or been given false information. He then asks a second time If I had stolen a bottle. I made it clear that this is not true and I am sick of the constant rumors and lies that are being said about me as this occurs regularly. Before I could finish my sentence, I am bluntly told I have the option to resign as it will look good for future employment.

    He has made 2 previous employees leave this way for minor things. Then he says he has involved the company's "loss prevention team" and that they are flying in from out of state to investigate this rumor, then informs me the police will be involved and possibly court if I am found guilty of any misconduct.

    After repeatedly denying the allegation and admitting my wrongs for having a shot, I ask what happens after the investigation and they find nothing (because I didn't take this bottle). He then replies "Well, you admitted drinking on the job (60ml shot) and that decision is up to me and that would most likely end up in termination", and then he tells me I'm suspended.

    At this point, I was speechless. I was offered no support person for this surprise meeting. I had no idea about a theft and from the actions of my boss and the other staff members' towards me on arrival, it seems they have made up their minds that I am guilty of this accusation, when the week before he was telling staff he "wants me gone", " frequently asking other staff members if I am on drugs".

    I feel like I am being treated unfairly and subjected to workplace bullying.

    Someone, please help me.
  2. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

    27 May 2014
    Likes Received:
    Make no more admissions about the shot of alcohol. That by itself is enough to have you sacked - unless many other employees do it as well - ie common work practice or needed to tell customers what things taste like (ie work approved tasting).

    re: Suspension. It needs to be suspension with pay. They must continue to pay you while suspended.

    Sounds like they want you to resign rather than go through the hassle of sacking you and possibly face an unfair dismissal claim.


    1. Resign. If you decide this is best, ask for, and receive, good letters of recommendation first before resigning.

    2. Wait for the results of the investigation while being paid. If they sack you, the reason has to be provided in writing. Post again if that happens with the stated reason.

    If the investigator calls you in for a meeting, ask for a support person/witness to be present. Take notes of what is said to you. Remember you do not have to answer questions, although silence is likely to be used against you, even though it shouldn't. If there is an accusation against you, demand the specifics before answering any questions. eg: why am I under investigation? What have I been accused of? What date/time did this happen? Who made the accusation? Where did it take place? Do you have video evidence?

    They will try to keep you in the dark as much as possible. They will say they can't tell you things for privacy reasons. They may say you have no right to know. They may say we have enough evidence to sack you, show us cause why we shouldn't. Don't believe them, ask for evidence and details.

    You can ask to record the interview on your phone. Do not do it without asking. If they refuse a recording, make sure proper notes are made. Your choice of witness should be made with this in mind.

    Good luck.
  3. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

    28 April 2014
    Likes Received:
    If you consumed alcohol, without permission, from the trading stock,
    then yes, you may well have been stealing.

    As to the rest, it speaks to a toxic manager,
    allowing the development of a toxic workplace culture,
    and if you can get out of there and get another job ,
    then you may find that's a better move for the long term.

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