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Employment Law & Legislation

Protecting Your Business in 2017 & Beyond: Employee Benefits Compliance

Suzannah Gill & Carl Pilger, Esq., EPIC Employee Benefits

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
2:40 pm-3:40 pm
Ballroom B

Applies to: Entry and Mid-Level HR Professionals

SHRM Competencies:

  • Business Acumen
  • Employment Law & Legislation
  • Critical Evaluation

Once upon a time, employer-provided health insurance was simple. But today's landscape is increasingly complex and resembles an alphabet soup: ERISA, HIPAA, PPACA, GINA, MHPAEA, FMLA, ADA, FLSA, IRS, HMS, HHS, DOL. And with the IRS and DOL increasing their enforcement efforts and raising penalties for non-compliance, it's more important than ever to review your benefits plans to ensure that you're meeting your obligations. In this presentation, we'll review key compliance regulations from the recent past reminders about your current obligations and a forecast of potential future legislation. We'll also share practical tips and best practices for effectively managing your benefits compliance obligations.

Learning Objectives:

  • Hear best practices for achieving and maintaining compliance for employee benefits plans
  • Learn about checklists to perform self-audits
  • Get insights regarding upcoming benefits compliance obligations that employers should prepare for

Suzannah Gill: As a consultant in EPIC's Employee Benefits practice in Atlanta, Suzannah works with employers across a spectrum of sizes and industries. After she began her career as an ERISA attorney advising employers on compliance matters, she now helps her clients navigate through the complexities of employee benefits so they can focus on managing and growing their businesses. Her areas of expertise include: Strategic Design & Management of Employee Benefit Plans, Health Care Reform Strategy & Compliance, Benefits Compliance, Consumer Driven Health Plans, Wellness & Total Health Management, Employee Communication & Engagement Strategies, and Benefits Cost Management. She is a regular contributor to industry publications and conferences, including the International Symposium of Certified Employee Benefits Specialists, Institute for Healthcare Consumerism, BenefitsPro Magazine and Employee Benefits News. Suzannah is a proud graduate of Georgia Tech and UGA law school.

Carl Pilger, J.D.: Carl is the Director of Employee Benefits Compliance at EPIC Brokers and Consultants. Carl is an ERISA attorney and has advised and represented businesses for more than 20 years. Carl has practiced at 3 prominent law firms focusing exclusively on ERISA compliance including representing his clients in DOL and IRS audits. He is a subject matter expert on the Affordable Care Act and has traveled the country speaking to numerous groups regarding the law’s complexities.

A Best Company's Guide To Handling Harassment Allegations

Gregory J. Hare, JD, Ogletree Deakins Law Firm

Thursday, March 30, 2017
10:50 am-11:50 am
Ballroom A

Applies to: Senior Level HR Professionals

SHRM Competencies:

  • Business Acumen
  • Employment Law & Legislation
  • Critical Evaluation

How do the HR Departments at the Best Companies reduce their exposure to damaging and costly harassment charges? Prudent employers ensure that managers are well-trained to detect and respond to harassment claims, whether sexual, racial, religious or otherwise. This highly interactive program shows how the Best Companies train their managers and supervisory teams, including: How to spot harassment? How to respond effectively? Whom to interview? What to document? What discipline to impose? Learn which practices work, and which to avoid!”

Learning Objectives:

  • Crafting effective anti-harassment policies
  • Training employees and managers on unlawful harassment
  • Effectively spotting, investigating and responding to harassment complaints.

Greg Hare has been an employment lawyer with Ogletree Deakins for 25+ years. He is the Managing Shareholder of Ogletree-Atlanta. His practice focuses on assisting companies with government investigations and litigation claims involving wrongful termination, harassment and discrimination, wage and hour disputes, and employment contracts. He advises clients on human resources topics like severance agreements, employee discipline and discharge, layoffs, family and medical leave, and use of independent contractors. He also handles traditional labor relations matters involving union avoidance and grievances. Mr. Hare encourages companies to develop proactive human resources strategies that minimize exposure to costly litigation and disputes, which includes providing structured management training programs. Mr. Hare has been recognized as: a Super Lawyer by the Georgia Law and Politics publication; Best Lawyers in the USA in the Employment Law category; a Leading Lawyer for Business by the Chambers USA Attorney Guide; AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Professionals.

C’Mon Man!

Marty Martenson, Managing Partner, Martenson, Hasbrouck & Simon LLP

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
11:20 am-12:20 pm
Ballroom A

Applies to: All levels of HR Professional

SHRM Competencies:

  • Business Acumen
  • Employment Law & Legislation
  • Leadership & Navigation
  • Relationship Management
  • Communication

This entertaining presentation centers around the unbelievable, yet true, requests and demands that employees make of their employers.We will explore things such as leave demands, data removal, work from home requests, non-disability related accommodation needs, and general employee "wants." The presentation will evaluate the impact of certain requests and the possible precedent established in saying "yes." Likewise, attendees will gain an appreciation as to why certain non-mandatory requests should be granted. Employee morale and employee relations can be profoundly impacted by such decisions. The risk/benefit analysis will also be put to the test. Finally, we will explain reasonable and rational employer responses and how the communication of a decision can mean the difference between success and failure.

Learning Objectives:

  • Explore employee requests that are legally required
  • Learn about employee requests that are simply "wants"
  • Get helpful employer responses to various types of employee requests

Marty N. Martenson: Mr. Martenson is currently the managing partner of Martenson, Hasbrouck & Simon LLP and is involved in representing management in all areas of labor and employment law. In his practice, Mr. Martenson focuses on employment discrimination, labor law, collective bargaining and union contracts, wage and hour law, affirmative action, policy drafting and counseling and preventive maintenance. Mr. Martenson also presents and participates in numerous seminars throughout the country for many of the firm's clients, as well as groups such as the State Departments of Labor, local Chambers of Commerce and numerous other industry associations. He is aa native of Tacoma, Washington. He attended North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, graduating in 1986 with B.A. degrees in both Business Management and Economics. Mr. Martenson attended Mercer Law School, graduating cum laude in 1989.

Immigration Compliance Under A New Administration: Resolving Talent Shortages Using Work Visas, Handling and Avoiding Government Audits and Investigations, and I-9 Compliance

Shanon Stevenson, Partner, Fisher & Phillips

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
1:30 pm-2:30 pm
Ballroom A

Applies to: Senior Level HR Professional

SHRM-Competencies:

  • Leadership & Navigation
  • Business Acumen
  • Ethical Practice
  • Relationship Management
  • Critical Evaluation
  • Global & Cultural Effectiveness
  • Communication

Changing the immigration laws is clearly a priority of the new Administration. This session will help Human Resources professionals to understand how to comply with changing immigration laws, including how to use work visas to resolve labor shortages. In addition, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services released a new Form I-9 to take effect on January 21, 2017. Failure of an employer to ensure proper completion and retention of Form I-9 for applicable personnel may subject the employer to new higher civil money penalties of up to $2,156 per I-9, and, in some cases, criminal penalties. The new Form I-9 increases the administrative burden on employers, which can result in even more mistakes. 2017 is expected to be another record-breaking year in immigration enforcement and the various government agencies are getting better at sharing information to target employers for criminal penalties. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement continues to issue Form I-9 Notices of Inspection to businesses across the nation. This session will provide guidelines on how to conduct an I-9 self-audit, how to handle an I-9 Notice of Inspection and how to avoid a Department of Justice immigration discrimination investigation.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand immigration compliance challenges under a Trump Administration, including obtaining work visas for positions with labor shortages
  • Understand the requirements of the new Form I-9, including the higher penalties that are now in effect, steps to conducting an I-9 self-audit, and how to handle an I-9 Notice of Inspection and Immigration Enforcement Subpoena from Immigration & Customs Enforcement
  • Tips to avoid a Department of Justice immigration discrimination investigation

Shanon Stevenson is a partner in the Atlanta office and a member of the firm's Global Immigration Practice Group. Shanon's practice focuses on corporate immigration law. She began practicing in this area in 1998. She has comprehensive knowledge and extensive experience in a broad range of immigration areas, including advising clients on current immigration legislation, handling nonimmigrant and immigrant visa applications, outbound visas and advising employers on I-9 compliance. Shanon is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She has been repeatedly recognized for her immigration practice in Georgia Super Lawyers - Rising Stars. Shanon is "AV" peer review rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

Avoiding Risk While Using Advanced Selection Techniques: The Challenging World of Pre-employment Testing and Big Data Analytics Used as Selection Tools

Gavin Appleby & Dionysia Johnson Massie, Littler Mendelson, PC

Thursday, March 30, 2017
1 pm-2 pm
Ballroom B

Applies to: Mid to Senior Level HR Professionals

SHRM Competencies:

  • Business Acumen
  • Ethical Practice
  • Critical Evaluation

The EEOC and the OFCCP have become extremely focused on employers’ hiring processes. In particular, the EEOC and the OFCCP have evaluated pre-employment testing more carefully. A majority of employers now use pre-employment tests, and an increasing number are considering the use of analytics based on big data as an additional means of evaluating candidates. Pre-employment tests range from personality assessments to cognitive testing and physical capacity exams. Some of these tests are homegrown, but most are purchased. Some are purchased from quality testing vendors but many are not. Further, most of the employers who use tests have limited awareness of the applicability of law to those tests, not to mention a complete lack of uncertainty as to how big data analytics will fit under the law (including the EEOC’s Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures) when used as a selection device.

In the last couple of years, there have been multi-million dollar settlements regarding testing claims and OFCCP audits. These settlements usually are caused by adverse impact problems under Title VII or medical issues under the ADA. Most often, settlements have resulted in situations where a test has not been validated or the validation has not been properly done or does not show sufficient predictiveness. So far, there are few claims involving analytics as a selection tool, but the EEOC already has warned employers about potential concerns related to those matters.

Employers need to understand how important these issues are and what they can do to avoid the ADA and discrimination problems that can arise from the use of tests and analytics as a selection device. They should also understand which types of tests and approaches are the riskiest and which are less worrisome. These are extremely complex topics due to the crossroads of candidate selection, validation, adverse impact and proper use of complex tools. Unfortunately, only a small number of employers have a meaningful understanding of such matters.

This program will include an analysis of the legal risk, provide education regarding how to evaluate and lessen that risk, and offer practical suggestions on how to select and use pre-employment tests and analytic-driven selection tools. We will address business strategy in connection with using and developing precautions related to pre-employment tests and analytics tools. The program also will focus on the potential return on investment through reduced turnover, better success with new hires, and the use of pre-employment tools in connection with cultural fit.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the risks and likely sources of non-compliance related to pre-employment tests and analytics tools
  • Evaluate how best to choose and use such tools to limit legal risk
  • Consider ways to improve the use of these tools without violating the law
  • Obtain specific information as to what the EEOC, OFCCP and courts expect of employers with regard to pre-employment testing, big data analytics as used in the hiring process and selection of candidates

Gavin S Appleby, JD: Gavin advises and represents employers in a broad range of employment law matters, from defending single-plaintiff and class action employment cases to offering advice on difficult employment issues and labor relations matters. He has significant knowledge of drug testing and sports anti-doping matters. He has tried cases in 20 different states and regularly appears before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Department of Labor as well as many state agencies. Gavin counsels clients in the U.S. on foreign ethics matters, codes of conduct and codes of social responsibility. Renowned as an exemplary employment law and diversity trainer, Gavin is a featured training expert in employment law at the Institute for Applied Management and Law. He has developed legally-defensible diversity programs, created numerous interactive training programs and trained thousands of human resources professionals and operations managers across the country.

Dionysia Johnson-Massie, JD: Dionysia is a litigator who focuses her practice on federal employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wage-hour litigation and strategic compliance issues. She also has defended clients against state law defamation, intentional interference with business relationships, assault and battery, and false imprisonment claims. She also has unique expertise handling religious accommodation matters for employers in a variety of industries and promotion and tenure issues for educational institutions. In addition, Dionysia services Littler’s Board of Directors and is co-chairperson of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and of the Women's Leadership Team.

Today’s Cultural Influences and the Law of Harassment: Managing Like J.P. Morgan in a Li’l Wayne World

Jonathan Martin, Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
4:10 pm-5:10 pm
Room 104

Applies to: All levels of HR

SHRM Competencies:

  • Business Acumen
  • Employment Law & Legislation
  • Critical Evaluation

As modern "entertainment" becomes more obscene, judges and legislators are becoming more restrictive. One employee may find "The Hangover" to be hilarious; another offensive. Rap music stars, celebrity "housewives", “bachelors”, and others make small fortunes engaging in distasteful behavior which is glorified on television, and the ratings go up. Yet business owners are expected to ensure no one is offended in the workplace.

Here's the workplace "reality" show: What employees listen to, watch, download, and use to entertain themselves is in your workplace whether you like to acknowledge it or not. The cost of making the wrong decision is a six figure lawsuit. And, the long term business cost of unmotivated and unproductive employees is even higher - potentially even bankruptcy.

Do you know what to do? Do you know how to address it? Do you know what questions are relevant, or even how to begin an investigation? Do you even know what laws can impose great penalties on your company for what your employees find entertaining? Do you know how to motivate and lead several generations of employees with different viewpoints, communication methods, and values?

If not, come join Jonathan Martin, a partner with the national labor and employment law boutique, Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP and he will provide the answers. He'll even entertain you while he's doing it.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand how modern cultural influences affect potential litigation
  • Understand how to effectively investigate claims of harassment
  • Learn how to document employer initiative to prevent discrimination to preserve defenses

Jonathan Martin is an equity partner with Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP.

Jonathan is a graduate of the Terry School of Business, University of Georgia, (B.B.A.- Banking & Finance, cum laude), and a graduate of the Walter F. George School of Law, Mercer University, (J.D., magna cum laude), where he served as the administrative editor of the Mercer Law Review.

Prior to being in private practice, Jonathan served as a military lawyer in the Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, where he also served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. Jonathan currently serves as a JAG in the Georgia Air National Guard.

The former chairman of the State Bar of Georgia’s Employers’ Duties & Problems Committee, and the former state-wide Chairman of the Georgia Department of Labor’s Georgia Employer Committee, (a public-private partnership representing over 1,600 employers) Jonathan conducts extensive management training on labor and employment law subjects for corporations and government agencies throughout the United States. Jonathan also serves on the FMLA Subcommittee and the Labor Relations Committee of the United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

Jonathan is a contributing co-author to the Mercer Law Review publishing an annual article on Labor & Employment Law for the Annual Survey of Georgia Law, and he is a Chapter Editor of ABA/BNA publication, The Developing Labor Law (6th Edition & Supplements). Recently, he co-authored an article on Labor & Employment Law for Mercer Law Review’s Eleventh Circuit Survey (GA, AL, FL).

Emergency Preparedness and Response - Disaster Planning Panel

Moderator: Greg J. Hare, J.D., Ogletree Deakins Law Firm

Panelists: Terri Howard, FEI Behavioral Health; Bob Weinkle, Centers for Disease Control; Sgt. Neil Welch, Atlanta Police Department

Thursday, March 30, 2017
2:10 pm-3:10 pm
Ballroom A

Applies to: All levels of HR

SHRM Competencies:

  • Leadership & Navigation
  • Communication
  • Business Acumen
  • Employment Law & Legislation

Severe weather threats, disease outbreaks, and workplace threats and safety – what is your organization’s emergency preparedness and response? What is the role of your leaders? What is HR’s role? Join a panel discussion to address various types of disasters. Hear from three industry experts who will advise on what are the impacts of these disasters on organizations, how your organization can plan ahead, make contingencies and handle potential disasters, and address potential legal issues and obligations.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand how such disasters can impact your business
  • Develop a strategic plan to react to workplace disasters
  • Understand your organizations legal obligation to handling workplace disasters

Greg J. Hare, J.D., has been an employment lawyer with Ogletree Deakins for over 25 years. He is the managing shareholder of Ogletree-Atlanta. His practice focuses on assisting companies with government investigations and litigation claims involving wrongful termination, harassment and discrimination, wage and hour disputes, and employment contracts. He advises clients on human resources topics like severance agreements, employee discipline and discharge, layoffs, family and medical leave, and use of independent contractors. He also handles traditional labor relations matters involving union avoidance and grievances. Mr. Hare has been recognized as a Super Lawyer by the Georgia Law and Politics publication, Best Lawyers in the USA in the Employment Law category, Leading Lawyer for Business by the Chambers USA Attorney Guide, and AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Professionals.

Terri Howard, FEI Behavioral Health Senior Director, is responsible for working with corporate clients to ensure they are prepared to respond and recover from a crisis. Terri is also responsible for coordinating the people support and psychological first aid services for those impacted by crises. She is experienced in developing drills and exercises aimed at testing current crisis management plans and procedures. She completed undergraduate school at Chatham University and attended both Pennsylvania State and Marquette University for graduate study and is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Public Safety/Emergency Management Leadership. She has contributed to several international standards and guidelines on crisis management and workplace violence prevention, including ASIS and the FBI.

Bob Weinkle joined the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2008 in the Strategic National Stockpile. He served as chief of the CHEMPACK readiness program and then Deputy of the Incident Response Branch. His current role is the director of transportation services where he is responsible for leading CDC’s fleet vehicle, shipping, mail, parking and community transportation programs and initiatives. Before joining CDC, Bob was the office administrator for Troutman Sanders LLP, an AMLAW Top 100 international law firm, with over 300 attorneys and 300 staff in his office. Prior to that he served for 21 years in the United States Marine Corps where he commanded Marines, sailors and soldiers at the Platoon, Company and Battalion levels, culminating in Battalion Command during combat operations in Iraq in 2003.

Sergeant Neil Welch is 15-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department (APD). He has held a variety of assignments and currently holds the position of team leader and bomb squad supervisor for the SWAT Team. Neil holds instructor certifications through the State of Georgia, The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA). As a trainer, he has been involved in the Atlanta Police Departments active-shooter training program since its inception in 2009. He has trained thousands of police officers on active-shooter response, police tactics, firearms, law and procedure. Neil is also part of the APD’s instructor team, certified through the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT), in delivering the Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) training program to citizens throughout Atlanta. This program started in 2016 to educate people on the best responses if they find themselves in an active-shooter situation.