HR Management & Compliance

Liar, Liar: Dealing With Dishonest Employees

When is it OK to fire a dishonest employee? Below, some points to consider before you take action.

No one would dispute the fact that you have a right to expect your employees to be honest. You also have the right to fire the dishonest ones. Below are some important points to convey to your supervisors regarding termination for dishonesty.


Join us on April 26 for a webinar all about how to handle your less-than-truthful employees — without getting sued.


Lies Must Be Work-Related

Remember that the dishonest behavior needs to be work-related. If an employee lies about personal matters unrelated to the job, you may have a problem to deal with, but it’s probably not one that should end in termination.

On the other hand, if an employee lies on his resume about essential credentials or past experience, that’s a serious work-related issue.

Get the Proof

Make sure you have solid evidence of dishonesty before taking action. For example, suspicions that an employee might be stealing from the company or has committed fraud are not good enough. Don’t fire, or take other disciplinary action, until you have proof.


Stealing paper clips or stealing company secrets? Get the facts on April 26.


Dishonesty Won’t Always Be Obvious

Recognize that dishonesty comes in many forms, some of which are subtle. For example, industrial espionage may be very hard to identify if an employee is clever.

Have Employees Sign a Code of Conduct

Have employees — at least those in sensitive positions — sign a code of ethics or code of conduct. That way, they are on notice that dishonesty will not be tolerated.

How to Spot (and Effectively Manage) Dishonest Employees in Your Workplace

Every day, employees in workplaces all across the country commit a multitude of little sins that annoy their bosses — from that extra five minutes tacked onto a lunch break to those Post-It notepads that mysteriously go missing.

But many employers draw a bold red line in the sand when it comes to flat-out lying.

Dealing with dishonest employees poses huge challenges — and risks — for supervisors and HR professionals. Whether it’s white lies about absences to something as dramatic as ongoing embezzlement, you need to act promptly while keeping your emotions in check and making sure you’ve got your facts right. If not, you could be setting yourself up for a costly — and embarrassing — lawsuit.

Learn the best practices for recognizing, counseling, and disciplining dishonest employees in our 90-minute webinar, specifically for California employers, on April 26. You’ll learn:

  • How to separate employee dishonesty that’s simply annoying from behavior that calls for discipline or dismissal
  • The most common reasons dishonest workers use to justify their actions — from “You don’t pay me enough” to “I don’t feel guilty at all” — and how you should respond
  • What types of workplace policies you should have in place to apply to varying levels of dishonest behavior
  • How to recognize potentially dishonest workers before you hire them (and the pros and cons of using references, background checks, criminal records, and other pre-employment steps to weed out dishonest applicants)
  • The step-by-step procedures you should follow before you confront employees about apparent dishonesty
  • Whether it even makes sense to engage in progressive discipline with an employee who’s dishonest — can a performance improvement plan fix a character flaw like dishonesty? (The answer may surprise you.)
  • The biggest legal risks you face when counseling or terminating a dishonest worker — and how you can avoid them

Download your free copy of How To Survive an Employee Lawsuit: 10 Tips for Success today!