TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Canadian accountant sued her former employer after being fired, alleging wrongful dismissal. However, when the company countersued, it came to light that rather than being fired without cause, the accountant had actually been stealing time. A judge ruled in favor of the company to hold the former employee to account.

Karlee Besse, formerly employed by Reach CPA, was fired in March 2022. She said Reach fired her without just cause and sued for unpaid wages and a month of severance pay.

However, Reach claimed in response that Besse had been stealing time and fired her as a result, saying due to the circumstances she was not owed severance.

According to court documents, Besse was under observation via a time-tracking program for the company, initiated after meeting with management to receive productivity assistance.

Shortly before her termination, Besse and Reach met due to scheduling and budget concerns, which resulted in the creation of a performance improvement plan. Reach says after the meeting, they “became concerned about a timesheet entry” by Besse for a “file she had not worked on.”

Reach then started analyzing Besse’s data from the time management program, finding roughly 50 hours of unaccounted time that she had reported, but “did not appear to have spent on work-related tasks.”

When Reach and Besse met to discuss her timekeeping, they discussed the unaccounted hours and Besse chose not to consider the information in evidence, declining an opportunity to correct it. As a result, Reach terminated Besse’s employment.

Then she sued for wrongful termination. In court, Reach offered analysis of Besse’s time sheets and video evidence of how her time and activity was tracked. The Reach videos claimed to “prove Miss Besse engaged in time theft by recording work time in her timesheets that was not tracked by TimeCamp.”

Besse claimed that she had been working on hard-copy paper files to explain the time differences, but Reach audited print activity and found “she could not have printed the large volume of documents she would have needed to work on in hard copy. Reach also says even if she had been working on files in hard copy, she would have had to enter information into the software at some point, which the TimeCamp data did not indicate occurred.”

As a result of the time theft, which the court concluded had occurred, Besse’s claim for unpaid wages was dismissed. Additionally, the court ruled that Besse actually owed Reach more than $2,700 for debt and damages for time theft, outstanding part of an advance Besse received, pre-judgment interest, and Civil Resolution Tribunal fees from the court proceedings.