Friday, May 25, 2007

Capital Punishment

Spending one’s own money wisely isn’t always an easy task, spending other people’s money wisely perhaps even more difficult – but $7.2 million on lottery tickets? That’s what two employees at a bank in China are accused of doing. "Ren Xiaofeng, 34, and Ma Xiangjing, 37, were vault managers when they started "borrowing" money from the vault to play the state lottery." The two employees had recently been promoted to the position of vault manager; both had keys and both had combinations. They conducted their heist after hours by cutting electricity so that surveillance cameras would not operate.

Stealing from one’s employer has traditionally received relatively harsh sentences as I highlighted yesterday. The employer must be able to rely upon the trust in the relationship. In one recent Ontario case, an employee was accused of, and fired for, being a "time thief"; he was apparently taking longer on his breaks than allowed. In assessing whether the employer had just cause, Justice Echlin began his decision by stating: "Just Cause is the capital punishment crime of employment law." In labour circles termination of employment has long been referred to as industrial capital punishment.

For the two chinese workers it is not only their employment that risks termination – but their lives. If convicted of the theft, the workers face capital punishment – the real kind.

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