Bodily Search of Employee

Our business requires that some employees handle hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash daily. The room is under 24 hour 7 day a week camera monitoring, however sometimes money is missing.
I am looking for guidance in how far we can legally go to search for missing money that might be on the employee.
Can we legally ask them to empty their pockets, take off their shoes etc? Any laws or guidelines that you may know of will be helpful.


  • 5 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Have you considered providing employees with work uniforms that lack pockets or other areas to "stash cash"? I am sure a Uniform Rental vendor can provide you with ideas.

    I would be sure that you have a well thought out, and documented, policy on searches. This is one you should run past legal counsel, because of the Constitutional protections involved. While I understand that the prohibition against "unreasonable search and seizure" really relates to governmental agencies, still most employees do not understand, or care about those niceities. Just think of the kinds of personal and private information you could be come privy to by doing a body search and ask yourself-Do I really wan to know that? Also, there is that vague and ill defined area of an employee's right to privacy that an intrusive body search could violate unless you have a reason.

  • You do need some legal advice, but you have certain rights to search. Depending on what you decide to do, don't forget to have women look in women's purses and men search men.

    Margaret Morford

  • Assuming you're in the casino/gambling business do what others in the industry do: no on leaves the room until all money is accounted for. That would probably serve as a great deterrent to would-be thieves.
  • Craig's idea is interesting, but may lead to liability for "wrongful detention" for the innocent employees --especially if it is not handled correctly.

    A key to any search is to have a policy that destroys any expectation of privacy an employee might have. Therefore, the policy should be in writing a clearly communicated to the employees who handle the money.

    On a final note: your situation may be one of the few where the employer can legally use a polygraph to investigate the missing funds (this is highly regulated under the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, and you should seek legal advice before doing so).

    Good Luck!!
  • As Theresa Gegen stated, the key is to obtain broad employee consent for such searches. You should work with your counsel to draft specific consent notifications in the employee handbook, employment contracts, policy and procedure handbooks, and signs in the workplace stating that all employees are subject to search. However, if the employees refuse such a search when requested by management, you should not force a search (especially on the employee's person) but resort to discipline for insubordination and violation of company rules.

    In addition, as Curious G mentioned, many employers address this problem with special uniforms (such as jumpsuits without pockets).
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