header-01With over 400 attendees from more than 200 employers, our 26th Annual Labor & Employment Law Seminar was a huge success! Thank you for allowing us to keep you “on Track”.

For the first time this year, following our morning sessions, attendees were able to choose from our “high-speed” track designed for experienced HR professionals or our “Hop Aboard” track covering broader HR fundamentals.

Below are the top takeaways from each of our sessions.

General Sessions

  • Ingrid Ponce & Elitsa Yotkova Full Steam Ahead: Keeping up with Title VII As employers prepare to address any ever-evolving area of law, now is the time to act.  Analyze whether your workplace is susceptible to potential wage disparity claims especially in light of the new EEO-1 salary reporting guidelines likely going into effect in September 2017.  Consider issues relating to a steady rise in claims alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual stereotypes, sexual orientation or transgender status.  (There is more to this than just the bathroom!)  Finally, check those spam filters as the EEOC is now notifying employers of Charges of Discrimination by email.
  • Bob Turk We Got Game: Employment Law Learning from TV Shows of the Past. To Tell the Truth, this presentation was a lot of fun! We heard from  EEOC Miami Regional Office Supervisory Trial Attorney Kim Cruz on the EEOC’s new guidance on wellness programs, employer-provided leave and the ADA, subpoena enforcement and retaliation. Then, in Family Feud style, we covered a range of topics including employment application forms, negligent hiring claims, offer letters, employee handbooks and performance bonus programs.
  • Guest Speaker: Frank Brown, Chairman of Reemployment Assistance Appeals Commission View From the Top – Reemployment Assistance Decisions and Their Takeaways We reviewed the most recent revisions to the unemployment compensation (now reemployment assistance) rules and explained how those rules have been applied in practice since adoption.  Understanding the rules and how they are applied in practice can help employers develop policies and handle employee terminations in a manner that may increase the likelihood of benefit disqualification. 

Hop Aboard Sessions

  • Glenn Rissman Figuring Out the Immigration Alphabet Obtaining temporary work visas for foreign born employees is not getting any easier.  We provided an overview of different visa categories employers can consider in lieu of the numerically capped H-1B.  We also discussed the new 24-month OPT extension for STEM graduates and the interplay between temporary visa categories and permanent residence.
  • Eric Gabrielle  Next Stop – The Future of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Its Major Exemptions Now is the time for employers to evaluate and adapt to the impact of the new salary level of $913.00 set by the Department of Labor effective December 1. Evaluate your existing salaried workforce and consider the impact of the change on employees classified as “white collar” exempt employees.
  • Jon Stage Leaving the Station: Understanding The Basics Of The ADA Remember that the ADA’s main goal is the elimination of workplace barriers – whether because of physical obstacles, modes of communication or procedures and rules.  A key component to achieve this goal is the interactive process – the dialogue between the employer and the affected employee.  Finally, detailed documentation regarding the employer’s efforts to comply with the ADA in each given case is essential to the defense of any later ADA claim.
  • Bayardo Alemán & Giselle G. Madrigal All Aboard the FMLA Express FMLA cases have been steadily increasing.  To minimize risk, every employer must be familiar and compliant with the FMLA and all of its requirements.  This includes – at a minimum – knowing whether the FMLA applies in your workplace, which employees are eligible for FMLA protection, what health conditions are covered, what the FMLA’s notice obligations are, and the nuances of intermittent leave.  Review and update your policies to ensure that you are properly navigating the sometimes murky waters of the FMLA.

 High Speed Sessions

  • Bob Turk & Ingrid Ponce Advanced FLSA for Hospitality The changes to the DOL regulations are expected to have a far greater impact on the Hospitality Industry than any other industry.  Employers do have options as to how to address these changes in the law.  But now (more than ever), it is important to conduct a wage and hour audit of your workforce to ensure your employees will be correctly classified once the new rules go into effect in December and that overtime is calculated correctly for your potentially expanding non-exempt workforce.  Part of this analysis should include your use of the tip credit, calculating overtime when employees are paid partly through a service charges and the applicability of the retail sales commission exemption “7(i).” Failure to ensure compliance can prove very costly come December.
  • Andy Rodman  Going Into Labor: Pregnancy & Workplace Complications Pregnancy-related personnel issues permeate the workplace. Title VII was enacted in 1964, and for the last 50+ years the Courts, Congress, and HR professionals have been struggling to balance the rights of pregnant employees with employers’ business interests, needs, and (often well-intentioned) concerns. In Young v. UPS, the U.S. Supreme Court recently developed a “significant burden” test to assess the legality of pregnancy-based policies under Title VII, but the true impact of that decision remains to be seen. And, of course, employers’ pregnancy-related obligations extend beyond Title VII to ADA accommodations, FMLA leave, and state and federal lactation and breastfeeding laws. 
  • Kara Nickel ADA-HR Insomnia: Dealing With Things That Keep You Up at Night An employer’s ADA obligation is to provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified individual with a disability, that is, individuals who have the skills and experience for the job and who can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation.  The interactive process to determine an accommodation starts with a discussion with the employee and should include requesting medical information and trying out potential accommodations.  Accommodations are employee-specific, but may include policy modifications, assistive technology, job restructuring, reassignment, light duty, telework and leave (except indefinite leave, which is unreasonable).  If a proposed accommodation causes an undue hardship (significant expense or difficulty in light of various factors), then the employer does not have to provide it.
  • Freddy Perera and Rene Ruiz Off The Rail Policies and Approaches That Can Help You to Stay on the Right Track Too often, the first set of documents presented by a company to an employee is an intimidating set of policies serving as a sword and shield.  Through a little ingenuity, those policies can be crafted and communicated in a way that serves as branding documents that also help retain and motivate employees.
  • Lisa Berg FMLA Master Class – So You Think You Know it All Don’t forget to update your policy to address the new definition of “spouse,” utilize the new FMLA forms with the May 31, 2018 expiration date, ensure your posters are visible to employees AND applicants, always conduct an eligibility analysis when a request for FMLA leave is first made, revise your policy to refer to 12 workweeks of FMLA leave (not 480 hours), use a tickler system to trigger reminders for upcoming deadlines, and manage fraud and abuse by using the “Checklist for Curbing FMLA Abuse.”
  •  Sharon Quinn Dixon  Warning Signals Ahead: Hot Employee Benefit Plan Issues for 2016 Employers soon will begin to see effects of the DOL’s new “fiduciary rule” when their plan advisors provide lengthy disclosure materials.  Read those papers and be aware of your relationship with plan advisors.  Ask your investment advisor specifically about the most cost effective way to run your 401(k) plan and know how plan expenses are allocated among participants.  Stay tuned for the ever-evolving ACA interpretations and know that reimbursing employees for other health plan coverage can give rise to problems.  Transmit employee data to your employee benefit plan vendors securely and negotiate with them for indemnification if a data breach results in employee or company loss.