Can I take items from work I was not reimbursed for?

My boss said it would be considered
theft, but I was never reimbursed for
the items, so I took them when I quit.
If they don’t have the reimbursement in
file like a receipt, can they legally
obligate me to leave these items
behind?

Asked on February 23, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the items were bought pursuant to your former employer's request, then they were company property. Accordingly, you should not take them; they should be left behind. That having been said, you do have the right to be reimbursed for the cost of the items. If it comes down to it, you can sue (most likely in small claims court, it depends on the amount in question).

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you bought the items for the employer, then you can't take them, even if you were not reimbursed for them--having bought them for the employer, they belong to the employer, and your recourse, if not reimbursed, is to sue the employer for reimbursement  to which you are entitled. Taking items belonging to the employer would be theft. If the items were bought for yourself and used at work, then you can take them.
Examples: your employer sent you out to buy a whiteboard; because you were specifically sent to buy it for the employer, it belongs to the employer. You may not take it.
You don't like using a computer mouse and bought your own trackball; even though you used it at work, you chose to buy it for your own use. I is yours and you may take it.


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