Is an Employer Liable for Employee Theft from another Employee? Posted on June 13, 2011

This past winter I was an employee at a ski resort in California. I taught both ski and snowboard. I taught a snowboard lesson on January 17. When I went to teach snowboarding on February 21, I found my snowboard had been stolen. I filed a police report. The head of the ski school told me they would replace my equipment if not found by the end of the season on April 26. I sent an email on January 17 memorializing my meeting with the ski school head. The snowboard was never found. The ski school tried to offer and unload a used demo snowboard that was not comparable to my stolen snowboard. They are now not going to replace my snowboard. This locker room was rampant with theft, I know two people who had equipment stolen after mine. In employee orientation management never described the problems with theft nor did they notify employees during the season that theft was occurring from this locker room to give employees the opportunity to take their equipment home. The locker room could only be entered by a key code entry pad. We had to sign an employee agreement prior to working to not hold the ski resort liable for any theft of our equipment. I am going to file a lawsuit in small claims court under the following theories:
1) Breach of oral contract to replace my equipment.
2) Negligence by employer for not disclosing during orientation that theft has occurred many times from this locker room in the past.
3) Negligence for failure to disclose to employees the theft that was occurring during the ski season.
4) Subpoenea the local sheriff department to obtain police reports of all employees who had filed police reports to show proof of on-going theft and for a list of potential witnesses. What do you think about the layout of my small claims case? Did I miss anything? What are the pitfalls with the facts of my case?

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