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I work in a small company (~10 employees). A few days ago my boss asked me to get his credit card from his car at the parking lot. This happens, from time to time, so I can make some purchases for the company. After the last time he came to me and said that money that was in his car is missing and that I must have stolen it, because no one else has access to his car. Of course I didn't and now he is noticeably "cold" to me. We had a very good relationship - friends I would call it. But now he is avoiding me and accused me of stealing and said this to other employees too.

What can I do in this situation? I really want to keep my job because I have many freedoms here and it's very well paid, but I also want a "normal", respectful work environment again.

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  • How much money? – user45590 Jul 28 '16 at 11:32
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    Might you -- or he -- have left the car unlocked? – keshlam Jul 28 '16 at 12:19
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    I would also recommend not going to his car anymore if he asks you. Or at least ask him to go with you. – Dan Jul 28 '16 at 14:26
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    Is there a security camera in the parking lot? That might help prove to your manager that you did not do it! – k25 Jul 28 '16 at 16:50
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That's a tricky one. You have two choices here

  1. Put up with it and live the awkward environment
  2. Force a conclusion but be prepared to accept the potential outcome.

For 1., you have to do nothing. That's the status quo. For two you can address your boss with something like this.

Hi boss. I feel that you are mad and disappointed with me because you think I stole your money. This makes working here really awkward and inefficient and I don't think this can continue this way. I'm saying it again: I really didn't take your money. If there is anything I can do or say to prove it or assure you in any way, please let me know and I'm more than happy to try. At this point I don't know what else to do.

I think you must decide: If you truly believe that I took your money then you should fire me. It would mean that I can't be trusted and that I'm generally a bad person and why would you want to keep someone like that around? However, if you can find it in your heart to believe me and that whatever happened to your money had nothing to do with me than we can move on and get things back to normal.

But I need you to make a decision and get over your nagging doubts. What will it be?

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    I would recommend to replace "then you should fire me" with "then you should call the police". He can fire you in many places without repercussions. He can't call the police without some small amount of repercussions (like being told that there is not the slightest evidence, and it also evens the situation out. It's not boss vs. employee, it's one person vs. another person). – gnasher729 Jul 28 '16 at 13:44
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    I like that "call the police" bit. I think that by itself could help diffuse the situation. – SiXandSeven8ths Jul 28 '16 at 13:49
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    "call the police" also emphasizes the seriousness of accusing someone of theft. – Patricia Shanahan Jul 28 '16 at 14:12
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    @gnasher729: I wouldn't. This is primarily about whether you can save this working relationship or if it's damaged beyond repair. That's a psychological issue not a factual one. Mentioning the police may do even more damage as it's mildly threatening. It's also pointless: what would the police do? It's a he-said, she-said scenario, the police can't do anything about that. – Hilmar Jul 28 '16 at 15:41
  • No, don't just force him to decide. Force him to continue looking for the money. Ask him to get another employee involved (one that he already has told about this). Get that other employee to go through his car, check under the car seats, check through every nook and cranny. Ask that the employee checks the timeline and go through his home if necessary. That being said, if still nothing is found, I would look for another job if I were you (do not quit until you have something else). Whether you took that money, or did not take that money, there is always going to be a cloud over you. – Stephan Branczyk Jul 30 '16 at 19:27
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I think talking to him up front as friends would be the best. Explain to him that you would never steal from anyone and reassure him that he must be mistaken, and that something else must have happened to the money that he has possibly overlooked, or even misplaced it. Assure him that you understand him, but that he is mistaken.

This is much better than simply denying it. Maintain eye contact when your are telling him this, so that he knows that you have integrity and are being honest. He should believe you after that

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