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B.C. woman ordered to reimburse former employer for 'time theft'

A B.C. woman who was fired from her job has been ordered to pay her former employer $1,500 as reimbursement for "time theft."

The dispute began when Karlee Besse, an accountant who worked remotely, claimed she was fired without cause and sought $5,000 in damages for unpaid wages and severance, according to a decision from the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal posted online Wednesday.

The employer, Reach CPA Inc., countered that Besse was dismissed for cause for engaging in time theft. The company told the tribunal that there were 50.76 hours that Reese "reported on her timesheets but did not appear to have spent on work-related tasks." Because of this, it was argued, Reese should be ordered to pay $1506.74.

"Time theft in the employment context is viewed as a very serious form of misconduct," tribunal member Megan Stewart wrote.


The tribunal heard that the company installed a program on Besse's work laptop called TimeCamp. When the company "became concerned" about an entry on a timesheet, the data gathered by the program was reviewed.

"Reach says its analysis of Besse’s timesheets and TimeCamp data identified irregularities between her timesheets and the software usage logs. Reach submitted videos showing how TimeCamp tracked Besse’s time and activity. It says the videos prove Besse engaged in time theft by recording work time in her timesheets that was not tracked by TimeCamp," the decision says.

"The videos show where an employee opens a document or accesses a client file, TimeCamp records when and for how long they had the document open or were in the file. The videos show TimeCamp captured the detail of each of Besse’s activities which Reach could then use to distinguish between work and non-work activities."

The program, Stewart explained in her ruling, measures how much time an employee spends on different tasks by, among other things, tracking how long someone spends updating a client file or using work-related software. If the computer is used to stream a TV show or movie, for example, that activity is also tracked and classified as "personal."

Besse told the tribunal that she used her work computer in her off-hours, and said the program was failing to "differentiate between time spent working and time spent on the laptop for personal use." However, Stewart was not persuaded, saying the tracking program is designed to make exactly this kind of distinction.

Besse also said that she spent time working from hard copies of documents, something TimeCamp would not have captured. However, the company countered that the program tracks "printing activity" and the company provided the tribunal with data showing "she could not have printed the large volume of documents she would have needed to work on in hard copy."


Stewart said the evidence submitted by the company persuaded her that, on a balance of probabilities, Besse had perpetrated the time theft and her claim for wrongful dismissal was tossed out.

"Given that trust and honesty are essential to an employment relationship, particularly in a remote-work environment where direct supervision is absent, I find Miss Besse’s misconduct led to an irreparable breakdown in her employment relationship with Reach and that dismissal was proportionate in the circumstances," she wrote.

In addition to paying the company the amount for time theft, Besse was also required to re-pay part of an advance she had received, and pay CRT fees and pre-judgment interest. In total, Besse was ordered to pay her former employer $2,459. 89. Top Stories

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