If my former employer stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from clients for years to attempt to get out of debt, will I get in trouble for knowing?

Over the years, customers signed contracts for services stating X+Y = their service. After the contract was signed, numbers in the system were set up to reflect X+Y+(y) = services. It equals to be a 13% overcharge and almost a half million dollars. Over the entire course of the years, it was well more than a million dollars in theft. Will I get in trouble for knowing about this? I couldn’t stop it. I did not gain anything financially. I would have lost my job. My employer is also refusing to pay me my final checks until I sign separation papers over a month and a half after my last day.

Asked on June 8, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Nebraska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The law does not obligate someone to report a crime to the police in most cases, so you may not face liability for a failure to report this theft. However, if you did *anything* to facilitate or enable it--and that includes inputting data you knew was incorrect, sending out invoices you knew were fraudulent, telling customers to pay amounts you knew they did not owe, etc.--then you could face both criminal and civil (i.e. being sued) liability as an accomplice or for aiding and abetting. You should speak with a criminal defense attorney if you did anything at all which furthered this theft--you may want to consider reporting it and providing evidence in exchange for some immunity, and that's something to discuss in detail with an attorney.

It does not matter if you yourself did not profit, or that you feared for your job--people are NOT allowed to aid or commit crimes because they don't want to lose their job.

You employer has no ground to withhold your last check(s) for work you actually did--you do not have to sign separation papers to get them. If you are not paid, you could sue for this money. It is legal for the employer to offer you additional severance in exchange for signing, and to not pay that unless you do sign.


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