Employer stumps up £13,000 for employee who stole from him
When the owner of a floor fitting company in Essex caught one of his employees stealing he decided to take drastic action. Mr Creamer discovered that an employee had written out a company cheque to himself and taken it to Cash Convertors. The employee immediately admitted the theft and paid back the money. However, Mr Creamer was determined to take it further.
Mr Creamer tied the employee's hands together and made him walk through a busy town centre wearing a large cardboard sign saying "THIEF – I stole £845 am on my way to the police station".
The employee was photographed wearing the sign and taken into the police station. He admitted the crime to the police, saying that he stole the money to pay for a holiday and intended to pay it back. He was cautioned by the police and allowed to leave.
As expected, the employee was dismissed. He issued a civil claim, alleging that the humiliation and degrading experience of walking through the town had left him emotionally damaged and requiring psychological help. The employee demanded twelve months' loss of earnings, claiming that the incident made it very difficult for him to get another job in the town.
Mr Creamer followed his Solicitor's advice and settled the claim out of court. He had to pay £8,000 towards the employee's legal fees, plus an additional £5,000 in compensation. Nevertheless, Mr Creamer has said that he does not regret his actions but was disappointed with the legal system.
Whilst it does seem very unfair to reward an employee for an act of gross misconduct, in this situation the employer's behaviour was totally inappropriate. Mr Creamer was certainly entitled to dismiss the employee for gross misconduct but the humiliation of marching the employee through the town centre was the act that incurred significant costs.