Can I be prosecuted for theft by my employer if the item was not stolen?

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Can I be prosecuted for theft by my employer if the item was not stolen?

I work at a sandwhhich chain. I was just fired for “theft and fraud” because I used an extra points card to redeem for a bag of chips because I wanted to try them and shared with the other employees. I was also told because I turn the A/C down and because I asked for 2 days off a week. I eat food from the line once in a while but so do half of the other employees. It sounds like he just wanted to fire me but am I actually liable to get in trouble with the law?

Asked on June 4, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you were not allowed to use your extra points for that bag of chips, or if you did eat food from the line without permission to do so, then you have in fact committed theft--albeit of a very small degree. It is possible that your employer could try to press charges against you, but it is very unlikely that he will--and if he does, it is very unlikely that the authorities will actually go ahead with a prosecution  (the prosecutor's office has discretion as to which "crimes" to prosecute, and it is very difficult to see any prosecutor wasting public money and his time over an employee taking food from a sandwhich line).


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