What do I do if faced with administrative complaints or criminal charges for workplace conduct?
Both supervisors and non-supervisors may face allegations of criminal conduct in the workplace. This includes allegations of violent conduct, such as assault of a co-worker, vendor, or customer, theft or embezzlement of money or tools from the employer, or unauthorized use or deletion of computer data. In such cases, the employee is usually confronted with both job loss and a criminal prosecution.
Additionally, business owners can find themselves the target of an administrative proceeding or criminal prosecution over allegations of unsafe workplace conditions, immigration law violations, non-payment of payroll taxes, or non-payment of employee contributions to 401(k) or other employee welfare benefit plans. These prosecutions typically are brought by the Federal Government and its agencies because they are based on alleged violations of Federal law. In many cases, these investigations begin as administrative investigations by the applicable agency and only later does the agency or the Department of Justice inform the business owner that the investigation has been referred for criminal proceedings.
In either instance, anyone who is the target of an investigation over workplace conduct is best served with early attorney representation. This includes all investigations, both administrative and criminal. Any contact with a governmental agent should trigger concern. The ultimate defense of any administrative complaint or criminal charge can be jeopardized by the failure to identify, collect, and safeguard relevant evidence or to ensure that the individual’s constitutional and statutory rights are respected. Legal representation can help assure that your defense at trial or in an administrative hearing is not undermined by early missteps.