If a retail shop employee has their phone stolen by a customer, is the employer required to reimburse the employee for it?

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If a retail shop employee has their phone stolen by a customer, is the employer required to reimburse the employee for it?

An employee left his phone on the counter and it was stolen by a customer in the shop. The customer cannot be identified by the employees working. Employees are asked to assist in taking social media photos and they often use their own phones but the phone is owned by the employee. There is no current policy in place in regards to employee personal property. Am I as the employer required to reimburse this employee for his stolen phone?

Asked on July 30, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

An employer is not liable for the lost of a worker's personal property. Accordingly, a worker has no right to reimbursement. They could only sue if you, as their employer, had in some way taken it on to guard or watch their phone. The mere fact that property is stolen at a company location does not, without more, make an employer liable for the loss. The fact is that employees take in personal possessions at their own risk.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

An employer is not liable for the lost of a worker's personal property. Accordingly, a worker has no right to reimbursement. They could only sue if you, as their employer, had in some way taken it on to guard or watch their phone. The mere fact that property is stolen at a company location does not, without more, make an employer liable for the loss. The fact is that employees take in personal possessions at their own risk.


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