About Us

Mark J. Flynn, Esq., SPHR

Mark Flynn is an employment attorney in Denver, Colorado and the founder and president of Employment Matters. Mark started the firm in 2015 to serve his professional passion, conducting and managing workplace investigations. Previously, Mark worked at one of the nation’s largest employers associations for over 18 years, where he developed and managed a team of investigators performing over 100 investigations annually. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Chicago-Kent College of Law, Mark has a broad employment law background that includes conducting all types of workplace and Title IX investigations involving all levels of management – including elected and appointed public officials. Mark has published multiple articles on workplace investigations and unlawful retaliation and has acted as an expert witness on the adequacy of workplace investigations in federal trial matters. Mark also maintains the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification since 2000 and has obtained Title IX training certifications from ATIXA and T9 Mastered. Mark is a sustaining member of the Association of Workplace Investigators (AWI) and serves on AWI’s Guiding Principles Committee.

As part of Employment Matters, Flynn Investigations Group (EMFIG) houses the attorneys. Mark also provides counseling and training seminars on employment matters for employers of all types. To further promote effective and prosperous workplaces, Employment Matters expanded its services and personnel in 2020 in the fields of training, coaching, and mediation under Leading Matters (EM-LM).

Testimonials

Mark Flynn and I worked together for years conducting workplace investigations and assessments. Based on those experiences, I can say Mark is truly a skilled and insightful professional in conducting effective, thorough and defensible investigations. Mark works closely with employers to structure and organize investigations and assessments to maximize their efficiency and value in resolving workplace complaints and conflict. Employers repeatedly trust Mark’s dedication to neutral and objective factual investigations which get to the root of the issue.

Workplace investigations is an art form and Mark Flynn, is one of the greats! Mark has a deep understanding of the intricacies involved in conducting workplace investigations that respects both the process and those going through the process. During my time under his leadership, Mark emphasized the importance of building rapport with the interviewees as well as the ability to write clearly and concisely in order to achieve the best result — not just for the employer, but for all the parties involved. If you’re looking for a quality workplace investigator with integrity, then you need to hire Mark.

As a employer member of MSEC, I have had the pleasure to work with Mark Flynn for the past few years. He is very knowledgeable of employment law and has assisted me on several occasions with the investigation of employee relations issues and conflict resolution. He knows just what questions to ask to help manage and resolve “sticky” situations. His assistance has helped my company successfully navigate these challenging employment issues. I have also attended MSEC courses and have found him to be well-spoken and an excellent presenter.

I was pleased to work with Mark Flynn as a testifying defense expert in several employment discrimination cases in which Mark addressed the legal and factual underpinnings of employer-conducted internal investigations at issue. Mark’s opinions are informed by the hundreds of investigations Mark has conducted and directed in his career. He is thus uniquely positioned to succinctly relate the legal standards for workplace investigations and their application in a given case.

Mark presented an unruffled, deliberate demeanor as well as the keen ability to defuse attempts by opposing counsel to alternately distract and bully him. Mark’s testimony reflected his thoughtful insights concerning investigations as well as his genuine concern for employers and employees.

Lisa Rochelle Barbeau

Lisa Rochelle Barbeau, MS, SPHR, SHRM-CP – Director, Leading Matters

Lisa launched Leading Matters, the leadership development expansion of Employment Matters, as a Director of Training, Coaching and Mediation in August 2020. Lisa brings with her a wealth of experience in learning and development and an exceptional talent for crafting interactive learning experiences from source material. She excels at connecting individuals with the ideal resources and tools to accelerate their self-awareness and growth.

With a M.S. in Instructional Design from the University of Michigan, Lisa has practiced in the organizational development and learning arena for over thirty years. Her additional qualifications are extensive and include Myers-Brigg Type Indicator Step I and Step II certifications, Leadership through Influence and the Human Element administration, as well as 360 Profiler Coaching.

During her two decades with Employers Council, she gained recognition as a leader in facilitation and managed over fifty guest staff. Her commitment to delivering useful and powerful sessions lead to positive learning experiences and guaranteed workplace learning transfer for each participant.

Lisa is a mother of twin teenage girls. A devoted cultivator of orchids, Lisa enjoys reading historical fiction in her backyard hammock and snuggling her pandemic puppy, Nico.

Bridget Morris

Bridget Morris, MA – Director, Leading Matters

Bridget launched Leading Matters, the leadership development expansion of Employment Matters, as a Director of Training, Coaching and Mediation in August 2020. Bridget has a uniquely varied background in organizational development, executive coaching, mediation, and education, which she applies to each of her practices.

Holding a Master’s in Education from American University, Bridget has earned numerous certifications. They include Conflict and Mediation training, 360 Profilor assessment, and Radical Collaboration. She is also a Certified Executive Coach through New Ventures West and has taught college level writing.

After working for nearly a decade in secondary education, Bridget joined Employers Council and quickly gained accolades for her authentic and relatable facilitation style. She is a highly sought-after speaker and has presented over a dozen keynote speeches. Bridget demonstrates an unparalleled enthusiasm for bringing clients and participants to their full potential and resolution, utilizing her empathetic, self-effacing, encouraging, and skillful style.

An ardent traveler, Bridget lived in London and has ventured extensively throughout the world and nearly every corner of Colorado. She enjoys tennis and antiquing -and is always able to find the best spot to gather friends.

Kimberly Searfoorce

Kimberly Searfoorce, ESQ, SPHR, SHRM-CP – Director, Leading Matters

Kimberly launched Leading Matters, the leadership development expansion of Employment Matters, as a Director of Training, Coaching and Mediation in August 2020. Kimberly’s background is primarily a mix of employment law and human resources. This experience lends a nuanced perspective to her workplace advice and training.

Kimberly is adept at inspiring insights to promote individual growth, ultimately leading to more connected and successful teams. She also shares Employment Matters’ strong belief that a focus on effective communication is the best means to avoid workplace legal concerns.

Previously an Employers Council attorney and leadership development consultant for twenty years, Kimberly presents to forums of all sizes on a variety of topics including conflict, assertiveness, and employment law, with a strong focus on bias and inclusion. A member of the Colorado Bar, Kimberly earned her degree from Santa Clara University School of Law and is a certified Enneagram in Business Train the Trainer and What Type of Leader Are You? facilitator.

Frequent childhood moves with her Army officer mother gave Kimberly a keen wanderlust. An intermittent marathoner and zealous Chicago Cubs fan, she is the mother of three humans and one dog, Wrigley.

Peggy Penberthy, MS, SHRM-SCP, SPHR – Senior Consultant, Leading Matters

Peggy joined Leading Matters, the leadership development expansion of Employment Matters, as a Senior Consultant of Training, Coaching and Mediation in September 2020.

After nearly twenty-five years with Employers Council, Peggy brings a rich breadth and depth of experience in Coaching, Mediation and Facilitation. She holds a M.S. in Educational Psychology, which compliments her passion and skills. A certified coach, Peggy’s warm, intuitive, and supportive style creates a safe environment for self-discovery and growth. Her insightful and discerning questions inspire clients and participants alike to see through new eyes. She is gifted at coaching people to their best, particularly leaders endeavoring to be more strategic, inspirational and influential.

Peggy also enjoys the challenge of navigating others through conflict. She adeptly shepherds teams and individuals through the stress and flux of workplace strife with her exceptional training and conflict resolution skills. She is a certified mediator and among numerous advanced certifications, she holds one for both the Human Element and Radical Collaboration work.

A Midwesterner by birth, Peggy loves Colorado living. She takes great joy in long walks in the foothills near her home. A devoted and adoring mother to one daughter, she is a newly minted and extremely enthusiastic Mimi, as well. Peggy frequently travels throughout the world and enjoys rich conversations with dear ones over pasta and merlot.

Jody Luna, J.D. – Senior Investigator

Jody Luna joined Employment Matters in May 2016 as a Senior Investigator. Jody brings over a decade of concentrated experience in the performance and management of workplace investigations to EMFIG. Between 2005 and 2012, Jody functioned as a lead investigator before assuming the role of Workplace Investigations Manager at Mountain States Employers Council (MSEC). As manager, Jody helped defined the scope of incoming investigations, trained and developed a staff of attorney investigators, developed and conducted seminar training, and provided hands-on, quality assurance review to over one-hundred investigations annually. Jody has personally conducted over two hundred investigations and managed hundreds more for various corporate and public entities. Jody has also defended her investigation process and conclusions before administrative courts and in depositions.

Jody focuses on complex Human Resources investigations and broader management assessments of all kinds including harassment and discrimination claims, ethics and misconduct allegations, and workplace violence concerns. Jody’s deep employment law background is further supplemented by roles with the Colorado Supreme Court and in healthcare compliance. She has also earned advanced Title IX Investigator certification and is an active member and supporter of the Association of Workplace Investigators (AWI).

David Vogel, J.D. – Senior Investigator

David Vogel began his legal career as a labor and employment attorney in 1997 and worked as a litigator in a variety of fields before becoming a workplace investigator in 2012. His experience representing plaintiffs and defendants makes him uniquely suited to serve as an impartial investigator, while his litigation background provides him with insight into the high level of work necessary to withstand legal challenges. David has completed over 125 investigations arising from a wide range of issues, including harassment, discrimination, hostile work environment, employee performance, and workplace misconduct, for public and private employers of all sizes. He specializes in complex and sensitive investigations, such as those involving multiple claims, complex or technical facts, high-ranking employees, and elected officials. David has also defended his investigation process and findings in deposition.

David joined Employment Matters as a Senior Investigator in mid-2016 after more than four years as a workplace investigator at Mountain States Employers Council (MSEC), in Denver, where he also trained human resources and legal professionals about how to conduct prompt, thorough, and objective investigations. David earned a Title IX investigation certificate from T9 Mastered in California in early 2016, which includes training on trauma-informed interviewing skills. David is an active member of the Association of Workplace Investigators (AWI), where he serves on the Annual Conference Committee with colleagues from across the country to plan the organization’s annual conference and select conference speakers.

Jim Long, Esq. – Senior Consultant

Jim Long is a civil rights attorney and Senior Consultant with EMFIG. Jim recently retired as a Senior Attorney with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”), the primary agency enforcing laws which prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, and disability in K-12 and post-secondary educational institutions, vocational rehabilitation programs, and libraries. Jim specializes in training and education conference presentations, conducting civil rights and management investigations, and providing expert reviews for parties in Title IX, Title II, and Section 504 (disability) litigation. Jim is a trained mediator and collaborates with parties to develop compliant civil rights policies to effectively and fairly respond to complaints in the workplace and school settings, and to establish fact and law-based approaches to resolve cases in litigation. Helping institutions develop effective policies that are clear, concise, and comprehensive tools for ensuring compliance with applicable civil rights law is rewarding for Jim.

A graduate of Creighton University, the University of Texas School of law, the Judge Advocate General of the Army’s Graduate Program, and the Army’s Command and General Staff College, Jim has directed and conducted (and provided legal review of) dozens of investigations and compliance reviews related to complaints of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and sexual violence. He has provided expert witness analysis in Title IX (gender-based discrimination) litigation and provided training and presentations at numerous local, state, regional, and national conferences on a wide range of civil rights issues. As a prosecutor, Jim prosecuted more than 150 criminal cases in the Army and directed or consulted on the prosecution of scores more. Jim is a member of the Board of Directors and a Professional Associate of the National Association of Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinators.

Suzanne L. Pariser, J.D. – Senior Investigator

Suzanne joined Employment Matters in May 2017. After graduating from the University of Denver School of Law in 2005, she clerked for the Honorable Timothy L. Fasing of the 18th Judicial District. She then worked in private practice for five years, where Suzanne compassionately helped hundreds of clients navigate complex financial and marital issues. Suzanne discovered that her passion for writing, and ability to analyze complex legal issues are best utilized as a workplace investigator when she joined Mountain States Employer’s Council in 2015.

Suzanne has performed over 70 workplace investigations and assessments for public and private employers throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico. Her investigations addressed claims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, as well as employee performance/behavioral concerns and ethical issues. Conducting investigations involving multiple complainants, complex scenarios and high-ranking employees in the public and private sectors, Suzanne has earned the respect of her colleagues and clients as a poised, unflappable, logical, and insightful investigator. Suzanne previously worked under three of her current colleagues at EMFIG. Having distinguished herself as a reliable, go-to investigator for complicated and sensitive matters, EMFIG sought her out. Suzanne exemplifies the crucial skills and intangible qualities that make for exceptional investigators, which is a hallmark at EMFIG.

Cheri Vandergrift, Esq. – Senior Trainer, Investigator

Cheri began her legal career in 2001 after graduating from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law where she focused on employment law, and now brings her significant employment law knowledge and experience to EMFIG. After several years representing employees with all types of EEO claims, including ADA accommodation and FMLA interference concerns, Cheri shifted focus to advising and representing employers at Employers Council, Inc. for over a decade. At Employers Council, Cheri achieved the status of senior attorney and Employment Law Training manager and regularly advised employers on conducting internal investigations and directed workplace investigations conducted by third-party investigators.

Cheri joined Employment Matters in May 2019. In addition to her extensive experience on both sides of employment disputes, Cheri worked for a public employer in a management role before starting her legal career. Cheri draws upon her exceptional breadth of employment law knowledge and management experience in embracing her role as an EMFIG attorney-investigator, where she is also a significant contributor to the firm’s seminar training offerings.

Emily Gordon

Emily Gordon, J.D. – Workplace Investigator

Emily Gordon joined Employment Matters in January 2020, after demonstrating interest, persistence, and acumen in the workplace investigations profession. After graduating from the Case Western University School of Law in 2010, where she utilized her writing skills as a writing tutor for other students and an articles editor of the CWRU Journal of International Law, she spent five years reviewing, analyzing, and summarizing various federal regulations for a software company. Emily then worked for several years as in-house counsel with two startup software firms, and most recently worked at a boutique law firm where she focused her practice on corporate law. Emily discovered her interest in workplace investigations after being exposed to the investigative process firsthand, and now excels at putting her writing and critical thinking skills to use in each investigation she performs.

Juliane DeMarco

Juliane DeMarco, J.D. – Workplace Investigator

Juliane DeMarco joined Employment Matters in March 2020 as an attorney and Workplace Investigator after over a decade in the public sector representing local governments and the state of Colorado in a broad spectrum of civil litigation. Juliane has litigated suits arising from claims of discrimination or hostile work environment based on race, sex, national origin, and disability, as well as whistle blower complaints, privacy issues and First Amendment claims. Juliane also counseled public sector clients on day-to-day employment issues and internal investigations to ensure the sufficiency of findings in matters often related to CCRD and EEOC proceedings. Juliane’s experience in thorough factfinding, detailed analysis and clear writing combines with her enthusiasm and dedication to the role of workplace and school investigator to make her an immediate, valued contributor at EMFIG.