Can I file a lawsuit against a former employee for unauthorized credit card charges if he didn’t sign any document making him aware of the consequences?

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Can I file a lawsuit against a former employee for unauthorized credit card charges if he didn’t sign any document making him aware of the consequences?

I have fired a formal employee for company credit card abuse totaling $2657 in unauthorized charges. While he was an employee we did not tell him or gave him any document stating the consequences of company credit card abuse. I have talked to him and he said he was not aware of the consequences.I would like to sue him. Can he use that as an excuse? I only have the credit card statements and nothing else.

Asked on August 10, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If he charged items for his own personal benefit, you could sue him and even potentially press charges--a company card is intended to be used only for company purposes. If it's merely that he overspent on company charges or costs, then you could not.

Example: while going a busines trip, he should have stayed in a Best Western or equivalent and eaten at diners; instead he stayed a luxury hotel and ate at qualify steak houses. In that case, he violated your internal guidelines or expections (which is why you fired him), but did nothing legally wrong: he simple spent more on his travel than you would have preferred, but he was spending on business travel expenses (hotel and meals) of a kind, if not amount, which would be approved.

However, say that on the business trip, he paid for his girlfriend/fiance/wife to come with him: since her presence on the trip had no business purpose and was purely for his own benefit--that would be actionable as a form of theft, the conversion of your company's money for his own benefit.


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