Q: We discovered two individuals stealing cash and we have obvious proof of their crime. We terminated them upon discussing the results of our research. Our question: Do we have to give them a paycheck, since what they have stolen is considerably more than their paycheck? Or do we in good faith give them their paycheck, go through the legal system and try to recover the stolen money that way?

A: As rankling as it must have felt at the time, know that you did the right thing by bidding adieu to the thankless employees who had their hands in the till.

And it would be awfully convenient to simply withhold their final paychecks and deal with them nevermore. But you would also risk running afoul of the law and invoking the ire of your state labor department if you took this efficient route. In fact, you will be required to pony up soon. Illinois law requires that you cut former employees their final paychecks by the next scheduled payday.

Your safest course to the money stolen from you is through the more tedious hallowed halls of a courtroom.

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