should I alert my employer that a new hire was fired for theft at her last job?

A reader writes:

Without disclosing a very long back story, if someone gets hired where you work, and you know for a fact (100% positive) that they were fired from their previous position for stealing (money), should you alert your current employer? This “someone” could also be considered a friend…

If the person were only applying for a job with your employer and hadn’t been hired yet, I would say absolutely yes. If it later came out that you knew something so serious about the person’s integrity and recent past and hadn’t spoken up while she was being considered, it would reflect poorly on you.

However, the person is already working there now, so you can’t prevent the hire … which makes this murkier.

Frankly, if it were me, I’d probably give my manager a discreet heads-up — something like, “I feel really awkward about this, and I do think people deserve second chances, but I’d feel uncomfortable not mentioning this, especially if something went wrong.” Your manager can then decide how to handle the information, and you’ll have fulfilled any obligation you have by sharing it with her.

But I think a lot of people would argue it differently, so I’m interested to hear what readers think.

By the way, this should have come out in a reference check, so that means one of the following is true:

1. It did come up in the reference check (or the person disclosed it on her own), and your employer decided to give her a chance anyway. This seems fairly unlikely, since stealing money is a big deal and it happened at her most recent job, not in the far distant past, but it’s possible.

2. Your employer didn’t do a thorough reference check. They either didn’t check references at all, or they only relied on the references she supplied and didn’t check any further. This is dumb, but not uncommon.

3. The person deceived your employer during the hiring process in some way — either by leaving that job off her resume entirely so they didn’t know to check that reference, or by lying about why she left and they took her at her word without verifying it, or by lying about who her manager was there and putting them in touch with a fake reference who would say what she wanted. (The last two traps are avoidable by a company with thorough reference-checking practices, but many, many aren’t thorough — especially smaller organizations.)

In any case, since you say that this person “could be considered a friend,” one possibility is to simply ask her: “Hey, how did it go with talking to them about what happened at XYZ Company?” If she says, “Oh, ha, I didn’t even mention that job on my resume, so they don’t know about it,” you could certainly tell her that she’s put you in an uncomfortable position by expecting you to cover for her with your employer.

What do others think? How would you handle this?

{ 153 comments… read them below }

  1. Ryan*

    I’m still stuck on why you’d be friends with someone who thinks it’s okay to steal. And the fact that you’re concerned about it still means you don’t think she can be trusted.

    1. Mike C.*

      Yeah, I certainly don’t spend time with anyone who has ever broken the speeding limit, failed to pay a credit card bill or smoked weed.

      People make mistakes.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        True, but those things are in a different category than stealing from your most recent employer — it goes to integrity in a way the others generally don’t, no?

        1. Mike C.*

          It depends on how you see those things. I know plenty of folks who would go crazy in a moral outrage over someone that “couldn’t met their obligations” by missing a bill/rent, and plenty of folks have plenty to say about people who smoke marijuana.

          And besides, how many times have we violated the Lacey Act?

          Personally, I would agree that they aren’t as bad, unless the pot smoker was high on the road or at the job. But the main point is that people screw up, and sometimes they screw up badly. I don’t think it’s right to take a superior attitude and say, “why are you even friends with them?”

          1. EJ*

            You said it better. AAM is normally awesome about taking a morally superior stand.

            I will forgive this one :)

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Hey! I didn’t ask why she’s friends with the person. That was a different commenter. (Although I now realize that my original reply to Mike C. looks like I was agreeing with that perspective — which I don’t.)

              1. EJ*

                That makes more sense, AAM. It had seemed like you were agreeing.

                And haha – my comment should have said you’re awesome about *NOT* taking a morally superior stand :)

          2. fposte*

            But I think it’s legit as a counterconsideration to the “You should always be loyal to your friends” kind of view. When friends do bad stuff, it’s not always your job to protect them from the consequences, and in fact it’s worth considering whether that’s the kind of friend you want to have.

            1. EJ*

              It’s legit, I just don’t think we have enough back story to say they should not have this person as a ‘friend’, flat out, which is where this went.

              But you should not cover for friends at risk to your own career.

              1. Jamie*

                But you should not cover for friends at risk to your own career.

                This. And I would argue that a real friend would never want you to.

            2. BW*

              IMHO, protecting someone from the consequences of their bad actions is not always being a loyal and good friend. If someone continues doing harm to themselves and others because they know they will always be protected from consequences by “loyal” friends, they will never learn otherwise and get the opportunity to decide to stop doing those things, especially when those things are destructive. It’s called enabling. It’s not healthy, and it doesn’t do anyone any favors. To me, being a good friend sometimes means you have to let someone face the consequences of their own behavior because to do otherwise perpetuates a bad situation that is only hurting your friend and others.

          3. Hari*

            I just like to say that thanks to democracy marijuana is now legal in my state, so those people can suck it ;)

          4. Anonymous*

            There is a difference between breaking a law and doing something morally wrong. I would suggest that most people don’t consider speeding to be morally wrong but would consider stealing money from their employer to be wrong.

        2. EJ*

          Getting off topic, but this logic would suggest this thief should have no friends. I don’t think that’s realistic.

          I don’t agree with everything my friends do, and they know it. It doesn’t mean we are not friends. And I would expect them to still be my friend if I made a mistake.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Oh, I’m definitely not saying you shouldn’t be friends with someone who made even serious mistakes. (That was Ryan’s argument, but not mine.) But I do think that you don’t owe them cover in professional situations that could impact you.

          1. BW*

            ^^This – even if the person were a friend, if I had any integrity, I wouldn’t be covering up for them in a situation where they could hurt others, and I would certainly want to protect myself as well.

      2. Elizabeth*

        I agree with Alison that those are qualitatively different. Stealing directly hurts someone else – the person/company you stole from – in a way that the examples you listed don’t.

        We don’t have all the information, but while I would keep being friends with someone who told me they once stole years ago and regret it, or maybe with someone who stole recently but had *very* exceptional circumstances and was *very* contrite, I would think twice about maintaining a friendship with someone who stole recently and only stopped because they got caught.

    2. KayDay*

      Considering that the OP wrote, “This “someone” could also be considered a friend…” I’m thinking that this person is not a very close friend.

    3. BW*

      That was one of my first thoughts, but then I don’t know the person or the circumstances. This is something that would (and has IRL) turned me off from being friends with someone or at the very least makes me thinks twice about how friendly I want to be with them, but that’s just me.

  2. Joey*

    Depends on how you came to find out. If you have first hand knowledge and your friend is in a position to steal again, then yes, give a heads up. But if you found out through someone else I’d tell your boss you worked with him and he didn’t have a good reputation.

  3. BCW*

    Wow. With friends like you…

    Look, I understand keeping work and friendship separate. And without knowing the whole story, I have to assume you knew she’d be a co-worker of yours. If it didn’t come up in a background check (or they never did one) then its not your place to do that, in my opinion.

    This really comes down to you sabatoging your “friends” employment, and that to me is really bad. I could understand if this was just a former co-worker. But if you consider yourself a friend, then I have to say you are an awful friend. Maybe you think it would be better for your long term employment to rat out your friends past, but you will most definitely lose a friend. And also, I’d be wary of doing that. If you guys are friends, she probably has some dirt on you as well that you don’t want everyone knowing. Who’s to say she wouldn’t throw all your personal business out there as well.

      1. Anon*

        I think so but the OP does need to consider it from all angles, what if the ‘friend’ decides to go on a smear campaign?

        1. KayDay*

          Well, if the company finds out it’s true that the “friend” stole, they probably aren’t going to believe or care if this “friend” then reveals that the OP likes to wear Barney panties and/or is having a relationship with a vacuum cleaner (thanks, Dear Prudie for putting that image into my head).

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Taking a job with her organization and expecting her to stay quiet about something pretty damning, that she could reasonably assume her employer would have a strong interest in knowing.

          1. Jamie*

            Yes – it’s kind of like when you’re friends with a couple and one is cheating and you know about it.

            It’s a lousy position because it creates a moral dilemma for you about what you should say, if anything. Moral dilemmas are deserved when you do something yourself, but they suck when you didn’t do anything except inadvertently find out something you wish you didn’t know.

          2. Mike C.*

            It seems like a coincidence more than anything, but I could be wrong here.

            Besides, I would say that being fired from the previous job is enough – had it been more serious charges would have been filed.

            1. the gold digger*

              But a lot of times, don’t companies want to cover up embezzlement because the lack of business controls makes them look bad? Just because the business didn’t file charges doesn’t mean it wasn’t serious.

              1. Emily*

                Maybe when five+ figures have been stolen. If we’re talking about a cashier who took $100 out of the register every week I doubt the company would worry about looking bad, but they also may not bother with criminal charges when they could just deduct the balance from the employee’s final paycheck after summarily firing her.

          3. Hari*

            I agree but I would argue OP put herself in the position if she knew about it the entire time and said nothing through the interview process. However it is possible too, though a bit less likely that OP didn’t know the friend was applying or didn’t find out about the stealing until after she was hired.

            1. Gayle*

              According to the OP, this is a big company and a distant friend. It seems very likely that OP didn’t know the friend was applying to the company. When I was at a big company, I typically wouldn’t know if a distant friend was applying there.

              I mean, think about it. You’re applying to a big company in your city. Depending on the company, this could mean that you have *dozens* of distant friends there. You think you’re going tell them all that your applying?

      2. BCW*

        Without knowing the whole situation, no I wouldn’t put it on the friend. The friend is trying to move on with their career and get a new job. Somehow they got hired at your place of employment. Does the LW think that the person will steal again, or was there severe times that led them to that (and I’m not excusing it, just looking at reasons)?

        I’d say the friend is putting her in the bad position if they explicity asked them to lie about something. That is very different to me then bringing it up yourself. I’ll compare it to dating. If my friends asks me to lie to his girlfriend about where he was at a certain time, thats putting me in a bad situation. If I bring it up with no prodding on my own, then I’m just being a jerk.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Severe times doesn’t justify stealing, and someone who stole from an employer in the recent past is revealing serious integrity issues. What about when severe times come up again? Will she think that gives her justification to lie, cheat, or otherwise violate her agreement with her next employer?

          A better analogy re: dating might be this: Your friend starts dating someone who you know firsthand stole a car from a recent girlfriend’s mom. Do you really not mention it to your friend?

          1. BCW*

            Regarding the dating, your situation is a bit different, because that guy who stole the car isn’t my friend, so I have no allegiance to him. Yes I would tell my female friend that her bf is a thief. If my friend had stolen something I wouldn’t feel the need to bring that up to his new girlfriend.

            And I was in no way justifying the stealing at all. My main point was do you really think the person will do it again. And yes, to me whether I think they would do it again does matter to me.

            1. SW*

              that guy who stole the car isn’t my friend, so I have no allegiance to him.

              What if he WAS your friend, though? Do you ask yourself if he would ever steal a car again, and then decide whether or not to tell?

              My main point was do you really think the person will do it again

              We can’t really know if someone will ever steal again. Besides, as far as the employer is concerned, they should be the one to make that call, not you.

              Stealing is a serious offense that any employer would want to know about. And if they find out that OP neglected to warn them, “I didn’t think she would do it again” isn’t much of a defense.

    1. Jamie*

      “If you guys are friends, she probably has some dirt on you as well that you don’t want everyone knowing.”

      That’s a huge leap. I am teeming with flaws, but none that would hurt me professionally if known. In fact, doubtful that they are all that hidden. Cranky when stressed, unapproachable at times what with the bitchface and all, a hopeless policy wonk and slave to procedures…can be a a little neurotic and rigid? Pretty much anyone who has worked with me more than a week could tell you that.

      But dirt? Nope. Not everyone has dirt they want to keep hidden, and it’s a little alarming if that’s your assumption.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Agreed. Sure, there are things I would rather my boss not know about me because they’re embarrassing – the stories of my high-school relationships, for example – but nothing that any reasonable boss would consider firing me for. If someone had a vendetta against me and tried pulling out all my dirty laundry, they’d just look petty and vindictive. “Well, she sometimes doesn’t floss before bed! And she gets all stupidly emotional when she’s tired!”

        1. Jamie*

          Oh absolutely. I’m not saying I’d want every aspect of my life spread out before my employer like a buffet table – but as you said because it’s private or embarrassing…nothing that would in any way affect my job.

          The fact that every time I fold socks I put in a puppet show for my cats that is spectacular in scope in array of voices and accents…well, I wouldn’t want a tape of that played at the next management meeting. But I’d love to see the unemployment hearing if they used it as a reason to fire me!

      2. BCW*

        I’m not saying just professionally. I’m saying personally. Maybe you are squeaky clean, and thats great. But most people have things that they have done that they don’t necessarily want to become public knowledge.

        1. fposte*

          But then that’s not a friendship, that’s a mutually assured destruction pact. And how far does it extend? Do you keep quiet for the same reason if this “could be considered a friend” is stealing from the current employer?

          1. Not So NewReader*

            “But then that’s not a friendship, that’s a mutually assured destruction pact.”

            Good one!

        2. BW*

          I’m not squeaky clean. 20 years ago I did all sorts of things I really don’t want to revisit, but I own that, and I did them. I can’t fault anyone who would say, “BW needed a chocolate fix, and stole supplies from her job at the Chocolate Teapot Company. I can’t trust her.”, because yeh I did that. That’s on me, not anyone else.

          1. Lily*

            The situation is different. First you did it 20 years ago and it presumably hasn’t happened again.
            Second, you’re taking responsibility for it. That’s very different from someone who feels they couldn’t help it, because they are likely to do it again.

      3. Bridgette*

        Do you think there’s a correlation between the bitchface and being a policy/procedure slave? Like we’re just so angry about everyone not following procedures that it comes out in our expression? I’m pretty sure it is for me.

        1. Jamie*

          Yes. The face comes in the auditor’s tool kit along with a clipboard and various highlighters to differentiate found non-conformances, corrective actions, and opportunities for improvement.

    2. Liz*

      I agree. Unless you are the person in question, you just don’t really know what happened and why would ANYONE want to be involved in a mess unless you had to be?

      Fwiw, in grad school, it seemed like every time I heard, “I know for sure and I just want to speak up to do the right thing” it was from a person who DIDN’T know and just wanted to start trouble. It made me extra cautious for life.

  4. Not So NewReader*

    For me, I would have to be 2000% sure this person was stealing. If I was that sure- I would just go ahead and tell the boss.
    Some companies routinely fire for stealing- so that is situation normal for that company and I take those accusations with a grain of salt. I would just go about my day/life.

    However, my thinking is anything that jeopardizes my employment requires action on my part. As Alison said, it would reflect badly on me if I did not report it. Or worse yet, I might get caught up in another stealing situation this girl has created. I could be blindsided by an unforeseen.

    Companies do not like firing for stealing unless they have proof beyond doubt. I am willing to bet her official reason for dismissal is probably something else- tardiness, too many sick days etc.

    As an aside, OP, this person is a friend? Really? There is a difference between “friends” and “friendly acquaintances”. Please carefully consider which one this person is. With a friend, you might be able to say “Hey Susie, I am in a real spot here. Can you tell me what you told them about the last place we worked together?” A friend will not allow you to remain in an extremely awkward situation.

    1. fposte*

      OP was very cagey and said this person “could be considered a friend”–I don’t know if that means it’s a real friendship that the writer would like to be distanced from or something less like a friendship. I don’t necessarily think you owe anybody loyalty just for being in your social circle, especially loyalty that supersedes their obligation to behave ethically. But I also don’t think you automatically owe the job a heads-up, either.

      I’d do some complicated algebra involving:
      our friendship
      my feelings toward my employer
      her position there (is she working with money?)
      my level of certainty about this information (if it was merely told me, then that’s not 100% certainty)
      how long she’s been there

      and probably come up with different answers depending on all of them. If I know this because she told me, she just got hired, she’s handling the cash register and I really like my employer? I’m telling them. If a mutual friend told me, if this person’s been with the place for a year, and I have no particular investment in the workplace? Probably wouldn’t tell–though might tell the person in question that this story is out there.

      1. KellyK*

        I think this makes tons of sense, though I would expand your third one a little bit. People who don’t have purchasing authority or run a cash register still have plenty of opportunity to steal from their company, their coworkers, or their customers. (My mom’s credit card was stolen from her purse by a coworker, for example.) So I’d tip the scales toward saying something if I thought she’d have the opportunity to do it again. Maybe *more* if it’s a job that involves handling money.

    2. Natalie*

      “Companies do not like firing for stealing unless they have proof beyond doubt.”

      It probably depends on the size of the company. When I was in high school I had a job as a cashier at a restaurant. I was the only cashier. A few other employees could open the cash drawer with their IDs (you had to log in with your employee ID to open the drawer) but they were managers.

      I had been working there a while when my drawer came up short twice within a few weeks of each other. I was totally baffled, and even though my boss claimed to believe me he also said if it happened again I would be fired.

      Luckily for me, shortly after that one of the recently hired cooks was seen rooting around in a server’s purse, fired, and the drawer was never short again. Years later it finally dawned on me that he probably looked up my ID (all non-manager IDs were listed) and logged in as me sometime during my shift so he could open the drawer.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I should have said “good companies”…. ;)
        There is a lot of that type of thing that goes on. I am sorry for your experience.

    3. Hari*

      “Companies do not like firing for stealing unless they have proof beyond doubt. I am willing to bet her official reason for dismissal is probably something else- tardiness, too many sick days etc.”

      If that is the case then I don’t think OP should say anything unless she was 100% sure or the friend themselves admitted to it. It would make OP look bad if she said something, to have this big fiasco happen and when the friend’s ex-job’s HR is contacted they have her listed as fired for another reason. Especially if it was a big company and HR didn’t know the whole story. That could easily be flipped on the OP to make her look like a saboteur.

  5. Yuu*

    Maybe this is nit-picky, but I don’t think leaving a job off your resume is “deceiving” your employer.

    Personally, I’d first reach deep down and think whether I think this person might do it again, and base my answer off of that.

    1. BCW*

      I agree with that. I’ve seen advice on this very blog that if this was a short term job to leave it off your resume. So if this person was only there a few months (which again we don’t know) and they left it off, I don’t see that as deceitful.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s deceitful if it’s done with the intent to cover up the stealing situation. That’s different than simply deciding that a particular job doesn’t add anything to your candidacy.

      1. BCW*

        I guess though my point is why would you ever bring it up. If you did get fired for stealing, do you really think they should tell every potential future employer that it happened?

        Its a tricky thing to tell people to not bring up that your former manager was crazy or that you just hated the job and make up a more PC reason for leaving, but then at the same time to tell people that if you leave a job off that you got fired then you are being deceitful.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No, I completely understand why they wouldn’t include that job, and I wouldn’t recommend that she include it if she wrote in asking me for advice about that. But it doesn’t change the fact that it was done with intent to hide that from the new employer, and thus would why it didn’t come up in a reference check, which was the original context in which I mentioned it.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            So how does she keep it off her resume without being perceived as deceitful?

            I have a friend who was accused of stealing. I do not think she stole. Additionally, the shortages kept happening after she left and the shortages got worse. Then I noticed a loonnng series of employees all accused of theft. UGHHH.

            So how does she keep the job off her resume and not be accused of hiding something?

            I think this question has bearing on OPs setting, too.
            What should her friend have done to set things right with the new employer?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Let me be clearer about what I mean because it might not be coming across correctly. I don’t think that leaving a job off your resume is in and of itself an act of deceit; as I’ve said many times that a resume is a marketing document, and you put on there the things that will make you the strongest candidate.

              But when you were fired from your last job for stealing and you deliberately arrange things so that your next employer doesn’t find that out, yes, that new employer is probably going to feel you hid something important from them if they find out. That doesn’t mean that it’s still not the best way to go — it probably is, but that’s because all your options in that situation are bad. So you choose the least bad (leaving it off your resume and hoping for the best), but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be an issue if it’s discovered.

              1. Maire*

                It is a very difficult choice to make. I would be tempted to leave it off my resume so that the employer wouldn’t dismiss me at the first hurdle.
                However, I think that not to mention if I was eventually offered the job would make me very uneasy and I would probably plead my case at that stage. Maybe….I don’t know.
                I know this isn’t really relevant to you NotsonewReader because your friend likely wasn’t guilty of stealing.

                1. Maire*

                  No, wait ignore that. Obviously you don’t have to put on why you left on a resume so it prob wouldn’t have any bearing on an employer initially selecting you for interview.

              2. Joey*

                I don’t think that leaving a job off your resume is in and of itself an act of deceit; as I’ve said many times that a resume is a marketing document, and you put on there the things that will make you the strongest candidate.

                I’m a little confused by your advice. Isn’t leaving a firing for theft off your resume just as deceitful as leaving off any other negative info or firing off your résumé? They’re both hiding information an employer would want to know.

              3. Lily*

                I think it depends on how soon it is discovered. If you have done good work for years before it is discovered, you might get away with it. If you are just doing so-so and then it comes out fairly soon, your employer could feel really deceived.

      2. Maire*

        But where do you draw the line between covering something up and deciding a job doesn’t add anything to your resume?
        What you may not consider relevant, your future employer may think relevant and may not have hired you on the basis of it.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Sure. But the “friend” isn’t the one who wrote in for advice here. The advice I’d give her would be different from the advice I’d give the employer or the OP.

          An employer may always disagree with some of the decisions you made on your resume or in your career. All you can do is decide what you think creates the strongest picture of your candidacy and proceed accordingly, without lying. If an employer ends up having a problem with that, that’s their call — but it doesn’t change that that’s the right way for you to proceed.

      3. Hari*

        If they did end up leaving it off, couldn’t that job end up showing up if the company did a thorough background check? The person could end up getting caught regardless.

  6. KayDay*

    I think I would also take into account what the position is. If this person has easy access to money now, I would probably say something. The “friend” sabotaged their own career by stealing in the first place.

    However, if the “friend” stole money when employed as a cashier, and the current job is in communications, I’m not sure if I would say something. It would probably depend on my relationship with them, and how they have acted in other situations. I’d definitely murkier in that case…I’d actually probably write into AAM with the same question.

    1. Elise*

      That was my thought too. If the person is inclined to steal, letting them have direct access is not a good idea for the employer or employee.

      But, if the person was trying to improve and specifically took a job where they didn’t have the temptation – then it’s less of an issue.

      1. Maire*

        I wouldn’t think that the person having less access to money in their current position is really an issue. It’s really about whether the person is trustworthy or not; regardless of the position they are in.

        1. EngineerGirl*

          Exactly. Stealing is an integrity issue that involves deceit. You know, lying. So the people that are only concerned with money handling are wrong. There is also the lying/cover up part. That can get into any part of a job.
          The big question for me is if the person was mortified over what they did. If not then it is still an issue.
          The employer needs to know under any circumstance. If they don’t care then fine. But there needs to be honesty between both parties or the employment situation won’t work

          1. fposte*

            Interestingly, research on honesty suggests that it actually is more situational than that, which is why you’ll find people who’d die before they’d take money out of a register building a second office at home with supplies from work.

            1. Anonymouse*

              This is an excellent point, and I bet we’ve all personally seen this or even done it. I think it merits a little sub-question about whether and why it is or isn’t more okay to pinch a few highlighters here & there (vs. money). I’ll go ahead and give my opinion: if I had knowledge of both cases, I’d tattle on the money thief (IF they were in a position to handle money and it seemed likely they’d do it again) but keep mum about the office supply thief (counting on the fact that if they’re stealing enough to really hurt the company, then whoever’s paying attention to the fact that tons more office supplies have to be ordered because of them will get mad enough to say something or it will otherwise just be very obvious to everybody).

              1. Maire*

                Well, I do think that a lot of ethics and honesty is relative. Most people don’t regard stealing stationery as very serious because ownership isn’t as defined. For example, you probably consider the pens or paper you use in the office as “yours”, even though your employer bought them.
                However, I think that with regard to stealing money there is a definite line that has been crossed. And as such, I think that attitude could filter into other aspects of someone’s integrity.

  7. Malissa*

    First and foremost is this person in a cash handling position or someway involved in the accounting process? If the answer to this is yes, please advise who ever you can about the previous situation. It will be important to them. I’ve been tipped off before about someone’s back ground and ended up firing them for lying on their application over a similar situation. If more people were clued people in then embezzlement wouldn’t be such a huge issue.
    Second if this person isn’t involved in a cash related position there is a good chance their boss already knows. But you will still look prudent by bringing the issue up.
    Third–this may not have shown up on a background check because often former employers are willing to sweep stuff like this under the rug if the employee agrees to paying them back. It’s often cheaper to come to a mutual agreement to not talk about the situation and get repaid than it is to prosecute/pursue a theft claim.
    If you are in a workplace that does this please, for the love of little apple pies, talk them into stopping this. Full prosecution of any theft is the strongest deterrent for any employee theft.
    What one place may have swept under the carpet has now become a problem for the next employer.

    1. some1*

      “Third–this may not have shown up on a background check because often former employers are willing to sweep stuff like this under the rug if the employee agrees to paying them back.”

      Also, when my company did my background check, they only checked for convictions in my state. The LW could be located somewhere that is on the border of another state and the co-worker stole from an employer in that other state,

      1. Malissa*

        Exactly! The person I had to fire was convicted in another state. One tip and a quick phone call to the County Sheriff’s record office and I had all I needed to send the person packing.

      2. BW*

        The other possibility is the person just has never been convicted for any actual crime. That wouldn’t show up on any background check. If a person was fired for stealing but the employer never brought charges or the charges didn’t stick, this would not always show up on a check. It depends on what kind of check was done.

    2. Jamie*

      If you are in a workplace that does this please, for the love of little apple pies, talk them into stopping this. Full prosecution of any theft is the strongest deterrent for any employee theft.

      1000x this. The only thing I would add to Malissa’s posts is to remember that the accounting process involves more than just AR/AP. It’s anyone with purchasing authority. You’d be surprised the way people can scam their employer. I once busted a little employee ring swiping Gatorade from the supply room and selling those huge packets that make 30 gallons.

      Outside of a workplace or baseball team who the heck wants 30 gallons of Gatorade? Also – many offices notice their office supply bill going way up in August/September. It’s amazing how many people think their employer should foot the bill for outfitting their kids for back to school.

    3. Joey*

      Prosecuting every theft sounds good on the surface but rarely works in the real world. Most of the time you really don’t know for sure who has stolen something unless you catch them red handed. Most of the time it’s circumstantial so employers don’t turn the info over to the police unless its significant. And if you have poor internal controls you’re just making an educated guess at best. While that’s enough to fire someone it’s frequently a waste of time for the authorities.

  8. Katie*

    I agree with Malissa about whether or not the job requires money handling. To be honest, the whole “stealing from a previous employer” is slightly disturbing because it speaks to a lack of integrity and really…common sense. Its not a “small” thing, especially as it was in a professional environment.

    I don’t think comparing it to someone smoking pot in their own home is an accurate analogy. A more apt analogy would be if someone was smoking pot at work. I think I agree with AAM’s original advice.

    1. Mike C.*

      Measuring integrity is a very personal thing. There are lots of folks out there who think that “drug abusers” (where any use is abuse) have no morals or integrity.

      But let’s set that aside. How does someone ever make up for doing something bad if we get them fired before they’ve had a chance to show that they’ve improved?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, it’s harder for people to get a second chance in a case like this. That’s part of the consequences for something as serious as stealing from an employer. But it’s not the OP’s responsibility or her employer’s responsibility to take that risk if they don’t want to — and it’s especially not her employer’s responsibility to take that risk without even being informed of it by an employee who knows it’s there.

      2. Katie*

        I don’t really think that there is a question of integrity when it comes to stealing from someone. I’m sure you can make the argument that there can be extraneous circumstances but a lot of people go through those without stealing from an employer. I guess I don’t see a lot of gray area here.

        I agree that people deserve second chances, but I feel like the employer should be given the chance to decide for themselves if they are going to be the guinea pig.

        I think I would feel differently if it were the person involved looking for a second chance, or the person involved had even brought it up as an issue to their friend or the employer.

  9. The Editor*

    I actually went through this not long ago.

    I had a former roommate who was quite well-known as a thief apply and get a job at my current workplace. The first time I saw him was walking around the corner on his post-hire introductory tour. Oh boy…

    And yes, I did bring it up to my manager because:
    1–His stealing was well-documented over the course of more than a year
    2–The punishments he had received then (including being evicted) had done nothing to change his behavior
    3–He was being placed in a position where the opportunity to continue the behavior was readily available.

    Each situation is different, and I’m not sure there is a blanket judgment to make in this kind of situation. Frankly, there is just not enough information to effectively weigh in on the OP’s level of friendship or the misdeeds of the friend. Going off what we know, however, I’m inclined to say that I’d probably inform my manager in an attempt to be open about the information.

    1. BCW*

      Out of curiosity, at the time would you have considered the guy a friend? I mean I have former roommates that, while they did nothing illegal, I’d easily say I don’t think they’d be a good employee and why. But these aren’t people I consider friends. They are people I knew a while back, but wasn’t friends with them. If it was a current friend, I don’t think I’d do the same thing.

      1. fposte*

        I guess this is where I do get to Ryan’s view above. I have a hard time imagining sustaining a real friendship with a guy who’s been stealing repeatedly and has shown no sign of stopping the behavior despite some serious consequences. And even if I did stay friends, my saying nothing would mean I was now knowingly allowing my colleagues to be exposed to a risk of theft. I have some loyalty to them too, after all, and I think the victimized generally deserve more loyalty than the victimizing.

        1. A Bug!*

          I think for me, I’m not in agreement with the idea that it’s okay to throw people under the bus, as long as they’re not your “friend.” My sense of ethics has very little to do with whether a given person is my friend or not. If I wouldn’t keep a secret for a stranger then I wouldn’t keep it for a friend. (The reverse is also true, though – my word is my bond no matter who you are.)

          So, I guess I don’t really understand why the writer’s obligated to act against the best interests of his/her employer just because the person involved might be considered a friend. I think the relationship between the two is a bit of a distraction to the bottom line, and doesn’t change the issue of whether to tell or not.

          1. Ellie H.*

            I totally agree. Maybe I have an inflated sense of morality but I think honor is honor. If someone I know did something wrong that hurt someone else, I would tell about it no matter how much I liked him or her (if it were a circumstance when telling about it was the right thing to do).

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I see questions about loyalty to friends/fam. What about their loyalty to me? Why would anyone knowingly put a friend or family member in a questionable situation? I think loyalty goes both ways.

          I think we have been focusing on the darker side of things, too. Probably most of us would be willing to help in some manner if a wayward friend decided to mend their ways. This is good to keep in mind as we go along.

          Unfortunately, OP does not know the mindset of her wayward coworker.

          1. Lils*

            For me, the real question would be whether the thief is aware that the OP knows about the theft. As a friend, she should have come to the OP and explained herself or asked for advice or *something* to acknowledge the awkward and questionable situation. If the thief hasn’t done that, I might suspect that she has arrogantly assumed the OP won’t tell.

      2. Malissa*

        A real friend wouldn’t put in such a bind to begin with. They would have told me right-off if they’ve discussed the situation with the employer. They would also know that if they didn’t bring the subject up I would.

      3. The Editor*

        To reply… No, he wasn’t a friend. I meant to state that.

        And to fposte’s comment, yes, I agree. I’m sorry, but I don’t typically make or keep friendships with people who are known thieves. Trust is such a critical part of any relationship, and if I had a friend who was a known thief, I would constantly be wondering. But that doesn’t also mean I become their enemy or someone who actively removes them completely from my life. I’d certainly check in from time to time, but I also wouldn’t be inviting them over for dinner.

    2. Hari*

      Maybe its just me but I wouldn’t have said anything to my job unless I knew he stole from his previous jobs. He maybe the worst roommate in the world but he could be a good worker. I only say this from experience because I did have a nightmare roommate of that level, who did steal, but one of my other friends worked with her and said she was very different at work then how I described living with her. I know that what people do in their private lives more often than not can transfer over professionally but it just seems a bit petty/juvenile to me to bring up personal non-work related issues. I do have sympathy, I wouldn’t want to end up working with my nightmare ex-roommate but I don’t think bringing up personal issues is very appropriate either.

      Still I think if you honestly 1000% think he would steal from your company it would be worth bringing up. It would also depend I suppose on how you approached it too. Approaching it on an angle where you focus more on how his stealing from you would set him up in a similar position (more than just general stealing, I’m speaking on terms like he was notorious for stealing your jewelry and you work in a jewelry store). Also downplaying your personal feelings on it, not “omg this sucked I hated dealing with so-and-so he is a stealer” would make you come off as concerned for the company and not just because you didn’t get along with your former roommate.

  10. Malissa*

    One more point for me to throw out here…
    In certain industries, such as accounting, where ethic standards are supposed to be high, knowing this information and not revealing it can actually land a person on the unemployment line next to the “friend.”
    Because if you hid that particular relevant piece of knowledge from your employer, what else are you not saying?

    1. Jamie*

      This is a really good point – there are different standards not only for industries, but positions.

      If an auditor knows something that they feel could potentially put the company at risk, we have a set of professional obligations that govern us…and silence could easily cost us our job.

      1. Elizabeth*

        So much this.

        Each year at our annual inservice, we are informed that compliance and organizational integrity are the responsibility of all employees, not just the compliance officer’s job. If we are aware of a situation that might make us non-compliant with anything, we’re under obligation to report it, so that it can be investigated & remediated if it does place the organization at risk.

        I investigate complaints about misuse of patient information & violations of patient privacy, along with billing irregularities (and I’m in IT). I get complaints from all areas of the facility about possible issues, and I work with the appropriate people to investigate & resolve them. Some of them are founded, some aren’t, but we take them all seriously, because the one we don’t take seriously will be the one that we should have.

  11. Ivy*

    OP I think this depends on how strongly you feel about it. Personally, I wouldn’t say anything because, well, whats the point. It’s very unlikely the employer will find out you know. Your friend might really be trying to turn things around. It’s not your duty to find good candidates for your company. Your boss might know already. Your boss might not do anything about it (if they can’t prove it or something) or not care enough about it. This is kind of like, when an employee keeps showing up late/leaving early, but that employee doesn’t work with/for you. Ya, you can bring it up to their boss, but why bother. (I know, I know… my example is slacking off and yours is stealing aka a crime, but I’m trying to prove my point.)

    My advice is unethical… but the cynic in my says that there comes a time where being ethical is just… wasted effort. Again, I’ll reiterate, this is only if you don’t feel strongly about the fact that she stole.

    Also, why not talk to the friend first before going to your boss? See where she is. If she told them about it. If she’s planning to steal again. If she understands how difficult of a situation that would put you in… etc…

    1. Anonymous*

      “Duty of Good Faith and Fidelity”. Employees owe their employers a certain amount of loyalty. I would argue it is their duty.

      1. Mike C.*

        I’m not comfortable throwing around words like “fidelity” when it comes to the employee/employer relationship. That sort of thing is reserved for my wife, not my boss.

      2. Ivy*

        Ya, but the same could be said about friendship… Regardless, I agree that it’s the ethical thing to do, I just don’t necessarily think it’s the practical one…

        Also, that whole thing is two-way. If the company treats me well, then they’re going to get a whole lot more “faith and fidelity” from me (which is why I asked how stronger OP felt about this). As Mike said though, a company might be a legal person, but it’s still just a company. Fidelity is too strong of a word, and even AAM has mentioned one shouldn’t be overly loyal to a company…

  12. BCW*

    Well I’m just glad a lot of you aren’t my friends. Apparently if I ever did anything wrong I’d be friendless and possibly jobless if you guys had anything to say about it.

    1. jmkenrick*

      I think you’re taking this a bit far. Stealing is not acceptable behavior, and it’s not unreasonable that this person is suffering consequences.

      Look – you don’t go to work for free as an act of charity. If your company started withholding your payments, or taking money out of your wallet, you would report them, you would quit.

      Similarly, your company is not employing you as an act of charity. They have better things to do than monitor your honesty level. Having to constantly monitor someone’s behavior because they can’t be trusted to do it themselves is a HUGE drain on time and resources. If you prove them that you can’t be trusted, it makes sense for them to cut you loose and move on.

      If this person moved on to another job, and the OP knows that they’ve stolen in the recent past, it certainly could reflect negatively on the OP if they do it again. The OP could suffer consequences if she doesn’t step forward and say anything. I think it’s perfectly reasonable for her to do so.

      If the new employee wanted to avoid complications, her best bet would have been to be honest and upfront with the OP, so that the OP wasn’t left guessing (does my company know? do they not know?).

      People have overcome stealing charges before, and they’ll do it again, but being sneaky about something like that is not the way to engender trust, especially if your honesty is already in doubt.

    2. fposte*

      That’s a dramatic overreading, I think. We’re just not agreeing with your apparent point that being friends with one person is more important than any harm they might do. Are you really saying that no matter what your friend did, no matter how likely you think it is that s/he’d do it again, you’d keep it to yourself? Even just sticking to versions of the scenario here–if your friend had stolen from her last job, wasn’t sorry, and was now applying for your mom’s small business, which was barely staying afloat? Another, better friend’s business? At what point might your loyalty tip away from the person who stole money from other people toward the people he stole it from? That’s pretty much what we’ve been weighing here, and I suspect that there’s a point where your loyalty would tip toward the possible victim as well. Isn’t there?

      1. BCW*

        I’m not saying any of that. What I am saying is it really depends a lot on the circumstances. Not saying that stealing is ever right, but was she stealing for a reason (ex to feed her kids) or just to give herself a better wardrobe. Does it seem she has learned from it or not? Do you think she would do it again? Depending on those answers I would keep it to myself. Now once you start getting into if it was my mom’s business etc, thats a different story then.

        Maybe many of you are just more loyal to your employer than I am. There is nothing wrong with that, but in my experience very few jobs are loyal to their employees these days. And a good friend will probably outlast a job. So I’m in no way saying there is no way I’d ever tell anything. But I am saying I think many on here are very quick to sell out their friends.

        1. fposte*

          Honestly, I think you’re agreeing more with other posters than you realize, because most people have in fact been saying that it depends on the circumstances.

    3. EngineerGirl*

      Actually, you might end up with more integrity and (eventually) a better job because your good friends are holding you accountable to your actions. That is what really good friends do.

  13. Zee*

    It sounds weird how the OP makes it sound like an after thought that this coworker can be considered a friend. Many people are debating the friendship on here, and I would like the OP to define friend in this respect. Is it more of an acquaintance or someone you would visit or call often? Then someone above mentioned the whole situation about dirt. It doesn’t have to be dirt as in something illegal, but anything personal can be thrown up in her face that could appear damning to the OP. I had a “friend” do that to me, which made me realize she wasn’t a friend after all.

    I’m on the fence at this point. I really don’t know if the OP should say something. Yes, she says she’s 100% positive that the coworker stole from the former employer, but without the details, it’s hard to say if it’s really 100%. I don’t mean to doubt, but I don’t want the OP to say something if there is one speck of doubt. Then she’d look like the fool and might be put under suspicion.

  14. OP*

    Thanks to everyone for commenting. I know it’s difficult to fully understand the situation because some details have not been (and cannot be) disclosed. This person and I are friends that go out for dinner and/or drinks, mostly w/coworkers, on average twice a month. She is not aware that I know why she got fired, and I am 100% positive that is was because she stole from the company. I was not aware that she had been hired by my current employer until after the fact. Yes, she does have access to accounts/assets. I feel very loyal to my employer and yes, I fear what might happen to me if she gets caught stealing again. They may never find out that I knew, of course. I guess my dilemma is whether that is morally correct?

    1. Aaron*

      I don’t think this is likely to reflect poorly on you–if the employee doesn’t know you are aware why she was fired, how is your employer ever going to find out? So I don’t think that’s a reason to tell your employer.

      On the other hand, given that she has access to accounts, you feel loyalty to your employer, and (in Alison’s judgment) it’s unlikely your employer is already aware, you’re certainly not behaving badly by telling your employer. Sometimes loyalties conflict.

      1. OP*

        If they find out about the reason for her leaving her previous job and/or she steals again and is caught, my employer will question whether I knew, as there is a connection between us they are aware of. (And by “question”, I really mean they will pretty much know that I was aware.)

        1. Ivy*

          I find it strange that they would come to you for that, but that they didn’t ask you about her during the hiring process….

          Anyways, there’s no point in killing yourself with guilt and foreboding (love that word). Speak to your manager just to bring it to her attention. I would be careful of the wording though. If you have 100% proof that she stole say something like, “Manager, I noticed we recently hired Jane, who I’ve worked with in the past. I don’t know if you (or the manager that hired her) are aware of this, but she was fired for stealing at our previous company. I’m aware of this because (I cleaned up the mess, I was the one investigating her, etc). ”
          Then customize according to your relationship with your manager.

          TBH your friend sounds more like a work friend. Nothing against work friends, but I don’t think they get the same loyalty as friend-friends or relatives… Besides, she doesn’t have to know you tipped them off.

    2. Malissa*

      Ask yourself one question…will you regret not saying anything if she is fired for stealing again?
      If she really is a friend approach her and lay out the facts and ask if management is aware of the situation. If she says yes you can drop it and assume they know until things indicate otherwise.
      If you can’t/won’t approach her then lay out the facts to management and let the chips fall where they may.
      Moral character is never defined during the easy moments.

      1. Data Monkey*

        I am not sure if I understand why you would approach the friend and ask whether she told the employer about the stealing. Since she has lied/been dishonest in the past, I don’t think I would trust that she would tell the OP the truth especially about something as big as this.

    3. KellyK*

      Okay, thanks for the clarification.

      I think that because you know this for certain, and she does have access to accounts/assets, you really need to tell your employer. Because she doesn’t know that you know why she was fired, bringing it up with her would be odd and awkward.

    4. David B*

      It sounds to me like you need to have a Talk with your friend. Explain that you know why she was let go, and explain to her the awkward situation you’re now in. Give her a chance to convince you personally that she’s sorry for what she’s done, realises what a mistake it was, and won’t do it again.

      I think the outcome of that conversation, and how defensive / apologetic she is, will make it much clearer whether you need to take this any further.

  15. Aaron*

    This is a great question for AAM.

    To everyone who argues that the “friend” thing shouldn’t matter, I’d love to know how you’d answer the following:

    Suppose you have a friend who got fired for stealing money, but landed a new job as a cashier shortly thereafter. Over drinks, she tells you that she’s not sure how the reference check failed to uncover the theft, but that she’s grateful for the second chance, and working with a therapist. Do you look up the employer and give them a call?

    If not, why does the relationship to the employer matter, but not not the relationship to the person?

    (FWIW, even if the new job is “cashier,” I’d probably hesitate to tell the employer if the person was a good friend–someone who I could actually ask about whether they’d taken steps to deal with the problem. And I would encourage them to deal with it. If the person was a “work friend,” OTOH, I like the discreet mention suggestion.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You don’t randomly call people’s employers to report on them, but in this case, the employer in question is the one where the OP works. That’s different, and potentially puts her own reputation at risk, as well as raising loyalty issues with an employer who she might have a strongly positive relationship with (potentially a stronger relationship than with the coworker).

    2. Ivy*

      Ya, seconding what Alison said. I’ll stress the strong relationship with employer part. I would never call someone else’s employer to “tattle” on them (there’s something just… vindictive about that). However, if I worked for a company that really cared about me, then I would feel inclined to return the favour and care about it. This is a classic reason why I don’t understand why employers would choose to treat their employees like crap. It doesn’t benefit them in the long run…

      1. Jamie*

        The only caveat I would put on not calling other people’s employers to report them is in the case of a safety issue.

        The bar would be very high for that, though. If I knew for a fact someone was drinking during the day and they drove a school bus, or if I knew someone was a real danger to their co-workers or others I would. But it would need to rise to a level of danger.

        If I’m working with someone who has voiced plans to go postal at the office I’d really appreciate one of their friends phoning that in. But for the stealing, etc. – it’s not up to me to screen other people’s employees for them.

    1. Anonymous*

      What if OP had to reconcile the accounts afterwards? There are any number of ways that she’d know 100%.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, or if she was part of the investigation or in a management position or if the company was simply open with people about what had happened. Or if the “friend” told her.

  16. Charles*

    I don’t work in HR, or have anything to do with hiring, and in my position I never see any official documentation about people I somehow know getting fired for whatever reason, I may only just hear about it unofficially/verbally/off the record.

    But if I was in this situation, I would deny all knowledge and just not mention it. There is no way anybody can officially prove I knew someone was fired and didn’t tattle.

    But how long does this person need to be begrudged of making a living?

    And I’d ask the OP, how do you know for a fact that they were fired from their most recent position for stealing money? It is obviously with a different company? Do you actually officially know? Have documentation to prove this? Are you even working or have worked for this company that fired her, now or before? Or was it juicy gossip from somebody with a big mouth?
    And it doesn’t sound likes its your job to do the reference checks or hiring. (It isn’t my job where I work either, I’d stay out of it if something like this happened).

    Either way, I really think a lot of people replying to this need to think carefully about begrudging somebody of making a living. And this friend that got fired for stealing, they could very well be learning a valuable lesson the hard way, and the last thing they need is for all opportunities to be shut on them, and for society to judge them, begrudging them of making a living and moving on. And who knows what they could do when they hear the news that what they did at their last job is haunting them at this new job they got.

    Well OP, if they are your friend, try and make sure they don’t do it again, because if you are a friend (you don’t sound close to this person as previous commenters have said), don’t just put them on the street. But if you aren’t close, just deny all knowledge, especially if you can’t prove it, and you found out from a juicy gossiper.

    1. KellyK*

      I think there’s a huge difference between not wanting someone who’s stolen from their employer to be working at your current company with access to money and begrudging them making a living. *Particularly* when it’s pretty well known that you’re friends with them and anything they do could reflect on you.

      It’s not the OP’s responsibility to babysit the thief and make sure they don’t do it again.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      What the? Look – when you **choose** to do something wrong there are consequences. Many times these consequences go beyond what the person thought, The wrong doer doesn’t get to pick the consequences.

      Just because the OP alerted the employer doesn’t mean the other person gets fired. What will most likely happen is that the allegations will be investigated. Then the employer will go on with information they should have had in the first place.

    3. fposte*

      This is reminding me of the old joke about the two sociologists who find somebody beaten up in a ditch. They look at each other and say, “The person who did this needs our help.”

      I’m not arguing that the OP’s friend should be hounded to the end of her days, and I don’t think anybody else here is. But her victims don’t stop mattering just because you have a social relationship with her, and any decision that ignores her victims and the possibility of their being future ones is going to be problematic. That’s what the discussion about the sex offender appropriately focused a lot on–is this person likely to cause damage? That question doesn’t disappear just because you’ve had drinks with the person.

    4. BCW*

      Agreed. Here is a good example. I have a friend who got a DUI. Lets make this clear. I think driving drunk is an awful thing. Luckily they didn’t hurt themselves or anyone else. Their job found out and they were fired. After a while they were able to find another job. Some driving is involved in their job (its not like a school bus driver or anything, just driving to and from appointments). This job most likely doesn’t know that this person has a DUI because they didn’t do a background check.

      Lets say this person is your friend, and they got a job at your company. It seems most people on here would tell their boss that they had a DUI. That to me is completely begrudging them of making a living based on one mistake that they made. (Again, its a horrible mistake) Its pretty bad. They may have completely learned their lesson, and never drank and drove again, but you have these “friends” who want to turn them in and possibly get them fired. It just seems shady to me.

      1. fposte*

        If there were evidence that the OP’s friend had learned her lesson and wouldn’t do it again, then that would indeed make it a different question.

        But it’s not just about what happens to the friend, it’s about what happens to the people they might hurt. Your obligations are to those people as well as to your friend.

        1. OP*

          I would say she definitely didn’t learn her lesson and even stated how the money she stole didn’t matter because it was in an account that no one used; that no one would notice. But…someone surely did.

          1. BCW*

            Well if thats the case, then I do agree with most people on here. If she didn’t learn a lesson, it sounds like given the opportunity she would do it again if she thought no one would notice.

            I just think a lot of people on here are very cut and dry with absolutely ratting the person out, no matter what.

          2. BW*

            If that’s the case, no one should feel bad about bringing this up to the person’s employer, and then letting them decide what to do with it. That is all kinds of not okay, and it puts your employer at risk. They deserve to be able to assess the risk and make a decision themselves whether that’s to let her go or to monitor her more closely or whatever.

      2. Jamie*

        I guess where I’m having a little trouble is people using the word mistake to cover all f**k ups.

        A typo is a mistake. An accident is a mistake. Forgetting someone’s birthday is a mistake. Stealing from your employer or getting behind the wheel intoxicated are acts of volition which harm (or potentially harm) innocent parties.

        Those are wildly different in my eyes. And no, I’m not advocating calling random employers to make sure they are aware of everything your friends have ever done wrong – but there is an obligation to one’s own employer to try to mitigate harm if you have reason to believe there is a danger.

        In this case I think it really depends on the circumstances of both the incident and position – so I don’t personally have enough information to say whether or not she should say anything. But there are cases in which she should.

        1. Laura L*

          Thank you for this!

          I had a similar discussion last night about whether or not sexist comments are mistakes. They aren’t, but the person I was discussing this with seemed to be defending people who say sexist things as making mistakes.

          No, some things are bigger than that.

          1. Jamie*

            Agreed – on both counts. I have heard sexist/racist comments chalked up to mistakes, too, in my life and …no. It may have been a “mistake” on their part to expose the nasty little underbelly of their psyche – but people like that tend to see the issue as being what they said as opposed to the damaging mindset behind the comments.

            1. Laura L*

              “but people like that tend to see the issue as being what they said as opposed to the damaging mindset behind the comments.”

              Good point.

  17. Meg*

    I was in a similar position. I was a manager at a Big Box Retailer, and moved on to a store manager position for a Big Cell Phone carrier. After about two years, I got to interview someone who took my position at Big Box Retailer, looking for an opportunity with my company. He went through the first interview with me, and he was scheduled for a second interview with my district manager. However, I am close to employees at Big Box Retailer and the management staff. Since I don’t personally do the reference checking for Big Cell Phone carrier, this wouldn’t have came up otherwise unless I wasn’t told by employees there: he was let go for showing up drunk to work (0r got drunk on his lunch break/alcohol on premises, something to that nature) after the first interview with me, and before the second interview with district manager.

    I told my district manager, and that was apparently a dealbreaker for him, so he called the candidate and cancelled the interview via voicemail. Candidate didn’t get the message, showed up to the interview, and my district manager dismissed him right away.

    Now some employees at Big Box Retailer are like, “Ohhh you can’t use that against him! It’s illegal!” But WE didn’t fire him, and WE didn’t discriminate against him with anything related to EEO in the hiring process. We just didn’t hire him.

  18. Les*

    Wonder if the person was actually fired, or allowed to quietly resign. That makes a big difference when the person applies for other positions. That being said, if the person was not convicted of any crime, is there legally a way to inform your boss?

  19. Jill*

    is it ok for me to fraternize with an ex colleague who has been dismissed for theft. They are due to appear in court and they are asking me for information about my workplace , I feel stuck in the middle of my work and this friend

  20. edwinh*

    People do mistakes, no one is even close to perfection, and those who understand the meaning of the mistake they done learn from it by choice. It is not till it affects your life, when you will see the damage that has been done. Its just the many lessons in life. You might say im crazy but to be honest i would hire someone that has made mistakes or been terminatec because that is the time when they reflect the most on their mistakes and know they can change for the better, rejecting these people will just make them go into a deeper thought and occasionally make themselves think they are worthless.

  21. Diera*

    It is likely the company knows about the firing but somebody senior decided to do nothing. I know an employer that was warned that a woman it was about to hire had integrity issues. She was hired into a senior role still. After stealing from that company and breaking other rules she was fired. Shortly thereafter she was hired into even an more senior position at a large bank. The rules are different for people with connections. I know people with more experienced and education than the woman and who haven’t stolen from their companies but they can’t get a job at the big bank or a similar role at another company. They simply don’t have the connections.

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