A Woman Is Accused of "Time Theft" at Work — What Is That?

As a first generation college student with "blue-collar parents," she really had no idea what corporate America would expect of her.

Melissa Willets - Author

Apr. 2 2024, Published 12:39 p.m. ET

A woman who creates content on TikTok using the handle @gabrielle_judge is sharing her story of how she was accused of "time theft" at her first job in college.

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It turns out that "time theft" is a growing issue in corporate America.

But this woman says she didn't deserve to be reprimanded, and even claims that the experience left her traumatized and unwilling to pursue a career path managing people.

A timesheet in a machine
Source: Getty Images
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The creator felt unprepared to face off against managers in her first corporate job.

As the creator explains in her video, she was supposed to be training for the job in question after a summer spent abroad in Thailand before her senior year.

But that job training never took place.

And, as a first generation college student with "blue-collar parents," she really had no idea what corporate America would expect of her.

Then, a few months into the job, which she felt she was doing well, the creator was called into a scary meeting with the bosses — and accused of stealing money from the company.

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The confusion came from the creator having two different job codes she could use to record her time at work, which "didn't make any sense," according to her.

"They said I was intentionally clocking into a job code that paid more," the creator said.

She goes on to explain that the difference was $2 per hour, a negligible amount in her mind — especially after taxes.

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The self-described "goody two shoes" admitted to feeling scared about the situation, and hastily signed a written warning that she never even read.

But the most "frustrating" aspect of the situation was that her manager, who was in the meeting, had to approve the timesheets — and hadn't said anything up until this point.

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What is "time theft"?

Ultimately, the creator explains that she didn't try to stand up for herself in that moment due to inexperience.

She even second-guessed herself and wondered, "Did I steal time?"

With "guilt and shame" flooding over her, the creator says she was sadly scared off from managing people from that point on.

Meanwhile, you may be wondering what "time theft" even is.

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Well, apparently it's a growing problem with more people working from home, and happens when an employee is paid for work they did not actually do.

A Robert Half International study found that employers lose 4.5 hours each week per employee due to so-called time theft.

A man asleep by his computer when he's supposed to be working
Source: Getty Images
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As much as one in four employees over-report their time at work.

But just because "time theft" is a real problem doesn't mean that this creator committed it at her job.

Many commenters came to her defense, with dozens pointing out that the manager should have corrected the problem with the codes before she was called into a meeting and reprimanded.

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Someone else snarked that if the woman was being underpaid, magically, no one would have noticed!

No matter who was at fault, the creator admitted that the experience "was traumatizing."

Meanwhile, the biggest takeaway for TikTok was apparently that this creator's glasses aren't working. Most comments were about how her eyewear made users "dizzy" and how they were "so distracting" that people couldn't even watch her video.

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