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Discipline / Investigations

Minneapolis lawyer faces prison time for fraud

Michael Margulies, a former partner at the Minneapolis law firm Lindquist & Vennum has pleaded guilty to mail fraud, admitting in court that he had embezzled $2.5 million from the firm and its clients. He could face up to 20 years in prison.

School leader accused of creating hostile environment


The Farmington School Board is investigating one of its own. The board recently voted to investigate member Tim Burke to see if he poses a potential liability. Several board members have accused Burke of treating administrators disrespectfully, burdening them with unnecessary data requests and making unfounded accusations against them.

Teacher took 5-year leave to go embezzling

State law allows teachers with five years on the job and 10 years’ experience to take up to five years of unpaid leave if the school board approves it. For one former Minnesota teacher and athletic coach, that was a deal too good to pass up.

Investigation points back to employee who complained? It’s OK to punish her, too


If an internal investigation reveals that the employee whose complaint launched the process was also engaged in improper behavior (or was, in fact, the person to blame for the situation), don’t hesitate to punish appropriately. As long as you act in good faith, a court is unlikely to conclude the punishment was retaliation for complaining in the first place.

Investigations: You can (and should) demand silence from all participants

Water-cooler talk about alleged discrimination or harassment can poison a workplace. That’s why your company policy should require all participants in investigations (including witnesses) to keep quiet about the issue. That way, rumors and exaggerated claims won’t influence other employees who haven’t yet told investigators their side of the story.

2 Vikings know what their post-season won’t include

Barring an unlikely change of fortune, the Minnesota Vikings aren’t going to Dallas for the Super Bowl this year. Two Vikings players—defensive linemen Kevin and Pat Williams—also know they’re not going to Washington after the regular season ends.

Can deciding not to discipline lead to court?


It happens: A supervisor wants to discipline an employee, but HR or upper management nixes the idea because it knows something the boss doesn’t. Perhaps the employee had suffered discrimination in the past and was placed in a new position for a fresh start. Be prepared for legal fallout if you wind up disciplining the supervisor.

Can we fire an employee for refusing to take a lie detector test?

Q. One of our employees filed a sexual harassment complaint against another worker. After interviewing both parties, we are unable to resolve the credibility conflict. We asked the accused co-worker to take a polygraph exam, but he refused. Can we fire the employee for refusing to take the lie detector test?

When harassment allegations surface, launch comprehensive investigation right away


Are you sure your company is doing everything it can to prevent lawsuits? Start by looking at how you react to discrimination complaints. If you know exactly what to do from the moment an employee first complains until he or she files a federal lawsuit, there’s no need to read further. But if you hesitated for even a moment, keep reading.

Take action to separate, investigate as soon as you hear sexual harassment allegations


Juries are unpredictable, so smart employers do everything they can to avoid a jury trial. That’s especially important when an employee claims sexual harassment. It’s critical to investigate sexual harassment allegations as soon as they surface. Then act fast to separate the involved employees before more harm is done.