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

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


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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.