What to do when accused of fraud at work

Have you been working for months, perhaps years, only to wake up one day and be accused of some type of fraud at work? How should you respond to such accusations? Employee fraud is a matter that should be taken very seriously. It is very important to act immediately and get a legal representative who will help you understand your rights and options. The allegations can have serious legal consequences that you need to be aware of. You must speak to a fraud lawyer who will advise you on the next steps to take.

What to do next

First things first, you need to get the basic information about the accusations. What is it that you are being accused of? Is this information coming from your supervisor or one of your peers? Why do they strongly believe that you have done it? Make sure this information is not only passed to you orally but also in writing. If they wish to discuss these allegations in person, always ensure that your HR manager or someone from that department is present.

Discussing the allegations in person

When you meet with your supervisor or employer to discuss these allegations, it’s important to take note of everything that is discussed in that meeting. Don’t assume you’ll remember the entire conversation, so carry a notebook and pen to take notes. If there are areas that you do not understand, try and ask them to clarify even further.

Do not admit fault

There are instances where allegations are made based on simple miscommunication. You may find yourself trying to explain to the people present what exactly happened. This is OK but always be careful not to admit fault. Do not rush into apologizing. This is because a simple apology can be taken as an admission of fault. It could easily be interpreted as taking responsibility for the issue at hand. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you talk as little as possible when having the initial discussion with your employer or supervisor. Consider this as an opportunity to understand the situation at hand and not defend yourself.

Is the issue being handled internally?

There are fraud cases that the employer may decide to handle internally. This means that no one wants to press charges, but this may still have an implication on your employment history. Should they decide to handle the allegations internally, your best bet is to defend yourself. You may want to prepare a statement that explains your side of the story and shows your innocence. Submit this to your supervisor and you can possibly get it quickly resolved.

Fraud matters that are handled internally can have serious consequences such as the allegations being kept in your employment file. Unfortunately, there’s nothing much you can do at this point because the employer hasn’t filed any criminal charges. You can discuss the issue with a fraud lawyer but remember that your employer has the discretion to handle this matter however they find it appropriate if no charges have been pressed. The best approach would be to gather your evidence and approach your HR department and supervisor with lots of solid insight into what happened.

However, if the allegations are severe, the employer may decide to involve the authorities. In this case, you need to call your lawyer immediately. Don’t be quick to speak to the police unless you have a lawyer by your side. It can be somewhat embarrassing to invite your lawyer to work meetings that discuss the allegations but always know that it’s your right to do so especially when the police are involved. 

Can you file for defamation?

Allegations of fraud can result in false rumours about you which taint your reputation. If this is the case, you may file a claim for defamation. For your defamation claim against your employer or a colleague to succeed, you must prove that the accused published or broadcasted the false statements against you and that this ended up ruining your reputation. Proving this can be extremely complex which is why you must partner with the right lawyer from the very beginning.

How a fraud lawyer can help

Fraud lawyers specialize in employee fraud cases and hence carry the experience and skill needed to give you a successful outcome when false allegations are made about you at work. If the matter is taken outside of the workplace and involves the authorities, a fraud lawyer can help you gather all evidence and prepare a strong defence on your behalf.

Have you been accused of fraud at work? Talk to a fraud lawyer immediately to understand your legal options and know your rights.

David Costa is the founding member of Costa Law Firm leading criminal law division. Mr. Costa obtained his Canadian law degree from the University of Windsor. He can be reached at dcosta@costalawfirm.ca or 416-535-6329 ext 223.