Internal Investigations

Fall is here and in full swing! Many of us thought that as we sipped hot apple cider and watched the leaves on the trees change color, we would also be mulling over the new regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education. Betsy DeVos’ timetable is clearly not ours. While we wait for the regulations to be issued, let us look at our current Title IX investigations and what we can do to improve them. Here they are—the top ten pitfalls of Title IX investigations and how to avoid them:

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This article originally appeared in The Legal Intelligencer on January 9, 2019.

The Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL), 73 P.S. Section 201-1 et seq., and the Administrative Code of 1929, specifically 71 P.S. Section 307-3, vest the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General (OAG) with the power to investigate “unfair methods of competition” and “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” by companies doing business in Pennsylvania. The statutory definition of these phrases is quite lengthy, consisting of 21 separate, prohibited acts ranging from deceptive advertising and pyramid schemes to unlawful telephone solicitations and excessive shipping delays. But this catch-all definition perhaps best sums up the essence of what conduct is prohibited under the UTPCPL: “Fraudulent or deceptive conduct which creates a likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding.” Penalties for violating the UTPCPL include what you would expect—civil penalties and the payment of costs and restitution. But these penalties often pale in comparison to the Attorney General’s power to petition for injunctive relief and forfeiture of the right to do business in Pennsylvania if the investigation is mishandled. 
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I’m a management-side employment lawyer. It’s my job to go to court and defend employers and executives accused of all different types of misconduct, including sexual harassment. Over the last 20 years, I have seen it all. Some of my cases involve relatively tame allegations, like telling dirty jokes around the watercooler. And I have also been involved with cases involving extremely serious accusations, including indecent exposure, unwanted touching, and sexual assault. I spent a fair amount of time watching the Kavanaugh hearings. Like everyone else I know, I have a strong opinion on whether or not the nomination should be approved, but I did not write this article to share my personal opinions. There are enough political commentators on cable news shows doing that already. From an employment litigation and human resources perspective, there are several important lessons to be learned.
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This article originally appeared in Corporate Counsel

Part One: The Changing Corporate Counsel Landscape

Gavel with Check List ClipboardIn this renewed era of individual responsibility for corporate malfeasance, corporate counsel would be well advised to help protect themselves from personal liability by taking six steps of their own when notified of allegations of wrongdoing within the company.


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This article originally appeared in Corporate Counsel

internal-investigationFive years ago, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it had charged GlaxoSmithKline Vice President and Associate General Counsel Lauren Stevens with two counts of obstruction of justice and four counts of making false statements to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). At issue were allegations that Stevens had sent a series of letters to the FDA denying that the company had promoted its drug Wellbutrin for off-label uses and that she failed to turn over evidence to the contrary, including various slides used by physicians paid by the company to promote the drug’s off-label use.  


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