SHRM-Atlanta Program
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Law & Legislation Sessions

In an ever-changing legislative environment, HR professionals must understand critical legal issues that affect day-to-day business decisions. These sessions highlight policies and practices which focus on key employment law issues that affect the way HR professionals conduct business. Updates may also be included on new legislative laws or actions impacting the work environment.

Guns, Drugs and Crazy: What to Do With the "Erratic" Employee

We hear about workplace violence all the time and worry about it even more. Yet when faced with the potentially violent or seemingly unhinged employee, we are so concerned with the legal minefield we are paralyzed to act. We'll examine how to lawfully refer employees to EAP, when to bar them from your facilities, why you should consider employing the police and/or private security, and what to communicate to your workforce about actual and perceived threats.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Attendees will learn about state gun and drug testing laws,
  2. Attendees will learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  3. Attendees will learn about privacy concerns and media issues.

Speaker: David Gevertz, Shareholder, Baker Donelson

David Gevertz is an employment lawyer and Vice Chair of Baker Donelson's Labor & Employment Department. He vigorously defends organizations accused of violating discrimination, wage and hour, whistleblowing, privacy and benefits laws. He also litigates employment contract and restrictive covenant disputes, and he routinely leads sensitive internal investigations and reductions in force. Mr. Gevertz also represents financial, housing, testing, and hospitality-based institutions sued for violating public accommodations, fair housing, fair testing and fair lending laws.

Five Key HR Issues for 2015 -- From Reacting to Whistleblowing Allegations to Dealing with FMLA Abuse

In this live scenario-based presentation, attendees will learn five new HR issues and how those issues should be handled in a practical way of thinking through the use of videos and improvisation.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Whistleblowing is becoming the claim – and employers want to be able to resolve whistleblowing threats prior to a law suit, if they reasonably can. In this program, we will provide helpful ideas and ways to defuse a potential whistleblower complaint before a law suit occurs.
  2. There is an increasing awkwardness between religious accommodation issues and discrimination based on sexual orientation. Some conservatively religious employees are asserting that as an accommodation, the employer should re-assign them in order to avoid working with a gay co-worker. That accommodation, however, can result in discrimination against the co-worker or at least violate a company policy protecting against sexual orientation discrimination and harassment. We will provide suggested ways to deal with this difficult issue should it occur in your workplace.
  3. The EEOC's initiative regarding pregnancy and the ADA's potential applicability to pregnancy and light duty issues is creating confusion among employers. In addition, the Supreme Court is about to decide a case on this issue. We will provide insights on how to deal with this problem.

Speakers: Gavin Appleby, Shareholder, Littler, Dionysia Johnson-Massie, Shareholder, Littler & Emily Shoda, Associate, Littler

Gavin Appleby 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 U.S. on foreign ethics matters, codes of conduct and codes of social responsibility. 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 is a litigator who focuses her practice on federal employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wage-hour litigation and strategic compliance issues, including matters arising under: Title VII and Section 1981 The Americans with Disabilities Act The Age Discrimination in Employment Act The Family and Medical Leave Act The Fair Labor Standards Act She also has defended clients against state law defamation, intentional interference with business relationships, assault and battery, and false imprisonment claims. Dionysia uses a combination of legal skills and business acumen to offer her clients creative and cost-effective strategies that minimize exposure to a myriad of legal risks. She also has unique expertise handling religious accommodation matters for employers in a variety of industries and promotion and tenure issues for educational institutions.

Emily D. Shoda advises and represents management in various areas of federal and state employment law and traditional labor law. Her practice focuses on representing employers in wage and hour litigation arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act and various state laws, including complex class and collective actions involving misclassification, overtime and other wage-related claims. Emily also has experience defending employers against claims involving employment discrimination, workplace harassment and unfair labor practice charges.

Hot Topics in Employment Law – What Can Employers Expect from Courts, Congress and Government Agencies?

With the New Year comes a new Congress and fresh concerns confronting employers. From legalized marijuana, to same sex marriage, to new wage and hour proposals, to dramatic changes at the NLRB, all prudent HR professionals are wondering how changes in Washington and around the country will affect the rules regulating the workplace. This presentation will offer HR leaders valuable insights and what to expect in terms of enforcement at government agencies (EEOC, DOL, NLRB, etc.) and emerging trends in employment-related court decisions. How should companies adjust their HR best practices and procedures, if at all, to account for anticipated changes? During this session, employment attorney Greg Hare (Managing Shareholder at Ogletree Deakins-Atlanta) will discuss strategies that can help you minimize your company's exposure to costly workplace litigation and non-compliance. We look forward to hearing about these hot topics affecting the practice of HR in 2015, and beyond!

Learning Objectives:

  1. Staying current on evolving legal issues affecting your HR practice.
  2. Evaluating ways to adjust your HR Best Practices in response to legal developments.
  3. Minimizing your company's legal exposures.

Speaker: Greg Hare, Managing Shareholder, Ogletree Deakins

Greg Hare has been a labor & employment attorney at Ogletree Deakins his entire career, dating back to 1991. His practice focuses on assisting companies with a wide range of human resources challenges, including union disputes and employment-related litigation. He assists companies with human resources and employment-related litigation matters, including wrongful termination claims, sexual harassment, employment discrimination, employment contracts, trade secrets, and non-compete agreements. He also advises clients on a wide range of human resources topics, such as employee discipline and discharge, severance planning, independent contractor classifications, wage payment, family and medical leave, disability law, military leave, joint employment issues, reductions in force.

Your Evolving Business: The Impact of Social Media on Internal & External Stakeholders

A 2013 SHRM survey showed 77% of companies used social media to recruit candidates compared to just 34% in 2008, and FORBES recently reported the use of social media among adults has risen 800% to 72% from a mere 8% in 2005. Given how many people of working age now have some kind of on-line presence, it is not surprising that new laws have been enacted restricting access to and use of such information by employers and others. Therefore, businesses must gain an understanding of the new and evolving challenges presented by the use of social media and the impact it has on the business, talent acquisition, employees and external stakeholders.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand how social media can help and hurt your organization.
  2. Gain insight into how social media may implicate EEO and other laws
  3. Learn from recent cases and rulings what your organization can do to protect itself

Speakers: Alisa Pittman Cleek, Equity Partner, Elarbee, Thompson, Sapp & Wilson, LLP & Sean Libby, Attorney, Elarbee, Thompson, Sapp & Wilson, LLP

Alisa Pittman Cleek focuses on defending companies in employment-related litigation, such as class and collective actions and wage and hour matters. She also provides proactive counseling to organizations regarding day-to-day employment decisions and compliance in order to avoid litigation. Alisa represents clients in traditional labor matters, including unfair labor practice proceedings, representation cases, arbitrations, and collective bargaining. She works with national companies in a wide variety of industries, including chemicals and mining operations, restaurants and retail.

Sean M. Libby devotes a large portion of his practice to defending companies in harassment, discrimination and retaliation lawsuits brought under state and federal law, including Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. He also routinely counsels clients on Fair Labor Standards Act compliance and defends employers in FLSA suits. He regularly helps companies craft and enforce various employment agreements, including separation agreements and non-compete, non-solicitation and non-disclosure agreements. In addition, Sean is a certified experienced trainer who is frequently asked to conduct employee relations training, due to the unique interactive manner in which he delivers it.

10 Ways To Avoid Being the Big Catch in the Wage and Hour Sea

Wage and hour class and collective actions continue to proliferate aided by regulatory agencies and employee advocates. With the challenges posed by the current wage-hour landscape becoming clearer, more and more employers are continuing to see an increase in wage and hour disputes. Our wage-hour experts will provide a review of some of the policies and practices being targeted.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Practical guidance on how to avoid becoming the latest settlement statistic in the wage and hour wars.
  2. How to adapt your company policies to avoid common wage and hour mistakes.
  3. Methods by which implement new policies and practices avoid class action litigation.

Speakers: Anne Mellen, Shareholder, Littler & Angelo Spinola, Shareholder, Littler

Anne M. Mellen represents and counsels employers in a broad range of employment matters arising under federal and state law. Her practice primarily focuses on wage and hour actions arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act and various state laws, including complex class and collective actions involving overtime, misclassifications and other wage-related claims. Prior to joining Littler Mendelson, Anne was associated with another law firm. In law school, she was an articles editor of the University of Cincinnati Law Review and a member of Human Rights Quarterly.

Angelo Spinola regularly represents employers in collective, class, and hybrid actions brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Mr. Spinola also assists employers in responding to wage and hour investigations, conducts wage and hour practices audits, and develops compliance measures that minimize wage hour exposure. Mr. Spinola also works with global employers regarding their U.S. employment law related needs and the cross-border human resources issues they face. Mr. Spinola has extensive employment litigation experience and has litigated all types of discrimination cases brought under both federal and state laws. Mr. Spinola represents management in grievance arbitrations, drafts restrictive covenant agreements and litigates issues related to unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets, and breach of executive employment contracts. Mr. Spinola regularly appears on behalf of employers in federal courts, state courts and administrative tribunals throughout the Southeast and other parts of the United States.

My Candidate Has a Criminal Record - Now What?

Not a month went by in 2013 without a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed against an employer for their background screening practices. While a criminal record should not automatically disqualify a candidate, employers also want to protect their company by properly screening candidates. However, many companies may be at risk if they are not following appropriate state and federal screening laws and should take steps to ensure they are not the next company to make headline news. With nearly 18 years in background screening, Jason Morris presents four steps to compliance when a candidate has a criminal record.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Legal considerations when establishing a company hiring policy for candidates with a criminal record.
  2. Understand the two-step adverse action process and ensure it's in place.
  3. Understand the steps to take when a candidate has a dispute with information found in a criminal background check.

Speaker: Jason Morris, President & COO, EmployeeScreenIQ

Jason Morris, a veteran screening and risk management professional, founded EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 and acts as the company's chief operating officer and president. Morris is a frequent speaker delivering captivating, interactive discussions on background checks, global screening, recruitment and staffing. He educates audiences in best practice initiatives as they relate to organizational employment screening programs. Morris has been quoted in numerous business and industry publications including The Wall Street Journal,, USA Today, New York Times, among others. He is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.