City Employees Investigated for Improper 401(k) Withdrawals

January 5, 2007 ( - Fifteen employees of the Charlotte, North Carolina, Department of Transportation have been suspended without pay pending the result of an investigation into whether they improperly withdrew money from their state 401(k) accounts.

The city’s human resources director, Tim Mayes, told the Charlotte Observer that some or all may be fired. He said it appeared the employees applied for the hardship withdrawals on the advice of another worker who is also being investigated and has been suspended.

A city spokesperson said in at least some cases employees had legitimate reasons for making the withdrawals but failed to follow the proper procedure for applying, according to the Observer. The city was informed of potential problems with withdrawals for 13 of the employees by Prudential.

The city said it expects to conclude its investigation by next week.

In November, hearings began for 70 workers fired from a Philip Morris USA plant in Concord, North Carolina, near Charlotte, who were accused of lying on hardship withdrawal documents in order to qualify for the distributions (See Hearings Begin in Philip Morris Hardship Withdrawal Firings).