Workplace Culture

Fired for Sneaking Off With Two Plastic Cups

By Jon Hyman

May. 21, 2014

Cause for a termination is often in the eye of beholder. Or, to put it another way, what might seem trivial to one can be a big enough deal to another for a termination.

Case in point? Stine v. Central Ohio Gaming Ventures (Ohio Ct. App. 5/20/14) [pdf], in which the court concluded that an employee caught stealing two inexpensive plastic cups was fired for cause, and therefore not entitled to collect unemployment. 

Stan Stine worked for one of Ohio’s new casinos. During his employee orientation, he was given an inexpensive plastic drinking cup (with lid and straw!), bearing the casino’s logo. When his cup broke, he asked an employee in the HR department for a replacement. After HR advised Stine that it’s policy is one cup per new hire, he took matters into his own hands. He removed two cups from the training room and stashed them in his locker. Security discovered the theft, and the casino terminated him following an investigation.

The casino, and the court, relied on the following policy to support the termination:

Theft (unauthorized removal) or misappropriation (unauthorized storage, transfer, or utilization) of the property of guests, Team Members or Hollywood Casino Columbus.… Any unauthorized property found in a Team Member’s possession will be considered theft and grounds for immediate separation.

You might think that the taking of few plastic cups is trivial. To this employer, a casino, I can assure you it is not. To a casino, a no-theft rule is its lifeblood. This employer cannot set a precedent that it is acceptable to take anything without permission, no matter how small. If a casino is going to overlook this offense, how can it enforce a no-theft rule when a dealer pockets a $1 chip? What work rules do you have that are specific or unique to your business? Think about it next time you are considering firing someone. What’s trivial to someone else might be life-or-death to your business.

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at JHyman@Wickenslaw.com.

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