Is it right to tell among my colleagues who is a thief?

Friday January 24 2020



Jane Muiruri, Senior HR Manager-NMG

Jane Muiruri, Senior HR Manager-NMG  

By Jane Muiruri

I am a bouncer at a high end restaurant in Nairobi, and I have been away from work for two weeks as my managers investigate an incident where company materials were stolen. I am one of the suspects, and I’m currently on suspension. I know the person who took the items, but I’m afraid to tell my boss because he will lose his job. At the same time, I’m afraid that my bosses will end up punishing the wrong person. Should I tell them what I know?

Your primary allegiance at the workplace is to your employer because he has given you an opportunity to work, and rewards you with a regular salary. You two are joined at the hip. How will you benefit from withholding information, thereby allowing yourself and colleagues to suffer? By the way, failure to offer truthful information in a criminal case can be viewed as obstruction of justice.
Under the Employment Act, an employee can be dismissed summarily on grounds that he has committed a criminal offence against his employer, or has caused substantial destruction to the employer’s property.

Your refusal to name the person who stole the items makes you a candidate for disciplinary action. Your value system is also being put to question. If you do not condone stealing, you should not struggle with this question. You should share the information you have, including the name of the suspect.

When the truth finally comes out, you will be viewed as an accomplice, and some will believe that you benefited from the proceeds obtained from the stolen property.

How do you think your employer will react when he finds out that you withheld crucial information and knowingly made your colleagues suffer? Will your conscience be at peace if you know that your inaction has caused an innocent person to lose his job while the offender is roaming around free and could very well steal again? You are creating a moral dilemma that should not have existed in the first place.

Jane Muiruri, Senior HR Manager, Nation Media Group (NMG)

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