National Employment Law Council 23rd Annual Conference
April 18-20, 2018
Intercontinental New Orleans
New Orleans, Louisiana


(Material provided can be accessed by the link above.)


12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.          Registration        

1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.              Opening Plenary

1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
The New NLRB: Labor In the Trump Era

This panel will discuss the newly composed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), changes in the regions, and impact of the new NLRB on employers developing personnel policies in both unionized and non-unionized work environments. This panel will include a practical discussion of issues such as joint employment, best practices for drafting employee handbooks, Purple Communications, and use of employer email and servers for union-related activities, election rules, class action waivers in arbitration agreements, and more.

E. Jewelle Johnson, Graphic Packaging International, Atlanta, Georgia                       


Jerry Hunter, Bryan Cave, St. Louis, Missouri
Jennifer Jones, Toyota, Plano, Texas
Marvin Kaplan, The National Labor Relations Board, Washington, D.C.

3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Navigating the New Salary Laws Across the Country - A “Dos” and “Don’ts” Guide for Employers

Panelists will engage in a discussion about new salary laws and regulations in California, New York, Massachusetts and other national and local jurisdictions that apply to employers in recruiting and promoting employees, and establishing pay rates. This panel of experienced practitioners also will share a state-by-state survey of pay equity laws.  We will also discuss the “dos” and “don’ts” of conducting fair pay audits, and provide tips and best practices for multi-state employers navigating through the different fair pay rules and mitigate risks. 

Kathy Huibonhoa, Grube Brown & Geidt LLP, San Francisco, California


David Cohen, DCI Consulting, Washington, D.C.

Shaunicie Fielder, Dropbox, San Francisco, California

Stephanie Ridore, Albertsons, Washington, D.C.

Maria Rodriguez, DLA Piper, Los Angeles, California        

Chris Wilkinson, Orrick, Washington, D.C.

4:15 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Employment Challenges with the Gig Economy

This panel will discuss some of the issues employers are facing with misclassification of workers, uberization of the workforce, the growth of freelance workers in light of the Browning-Ferris decision, and a potential decision in the Grubhub case. The challenges faced by employees who engage Independent Contractors (or freelance workers) continue, and this panel will provide practical tips for navigating through these still murky waters. 

Moderator:    Sidney Minter, Fisher & Phillips,

Charlotte, North Carolina


Kate Djavakhyan, Google, Mountain View, California

Jimmy F. Robinson, Jr., Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., Richmond, Virginia

Achia Swift, Uber Technologies, Inc., San Francisco, California

Christina T. Tellado, Reed Smith LLP, Los Angeles, California

Christian E. West, Assistant General Counsel, Deloitte, New York, New York

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.              Welcome Reception

8:00 p.m.                                NELC Dine Around


7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.             Registration

8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace

From algorithms analyzing employee data, to computer and robotic laborers in retail and manufacturing, to the rise of the on-demand worker, AI has disrupted, and will likely disrupt, how virtually every workplace operates. Topics covered in the panel will include defining “artificial intelligence” and identifying ways in which AI is presently being introduced in the workplace, AI’s impact on HR functions, potential legal risks associated with AI’s use in the workplace, and factors to consider when developing a strategy to address AI in the workplace.

Michelle Marks, Epstein Becker Green, 
Chicago, Illinois


Ashley James, Facebook, Menlo Park, California

Nick Pujji, Dentons, Los Angeles, California

Abiman Rajadurai, McDonald’s Corporation, Oak Brook, Illinois

9:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.           
Regulating Off-Duty Conduct (political behavior, drinking, marijuana, use of social media, etc.)

Employees often believe that what they do on their own time is their business. And, some employers believe that they can regulate what their employees do "off-duty" if it reflects negatively on the business. This panel will discuss some of the legal restrictions on employers, and the rights of employees relating to "off-duty" conduct. Panelists will lead a discussion of relevant federal statutes, and state and federal cases. The panel will also include a discussion of the day-to-day issues employers have with the interactive process, reasonable accommodations, and decisions to terminate or demote employees based on policy for failing drug tests. In addition, we will also include a discussion on whether it even makes sense to have drug testing policies in states where marijuana is legal.

Shanda Botts, AARP, Washington, D.C.


Nicole Groves, Facebook, Menlo Park, California

Richard Harris, Littler, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Luis Lorenzana, Brown Law Group, San Diego, California

Angela Simmons, Parker Hannifin, Cleveland, Ohio

11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.         
(Breakout) Predictable Scheduling, Access To Hours, and Fair Workweek Legislation

Predictable scheduling, access to hours and opportunity to work legislation have been trending across the country from San Francisco to New York City. This panel will cover current and pending legislation as well as strategies and considerations for multi-state employers in managing a non-exempt workforce.

Moderator:    Barbara Dunlap, OSI Group, Aurora, Illinois


Puamuh Ghogomu, Walgreen, Co., Deerfield, Illinois

Theodora Lee, Littler, Walnut Creek, California

Tracey Wallace, Jackson Lewis, Dallas, Texas

(Breakout) Trends and Best Practices in Assessing and Implementing Effective Reasonable Accommodations

This panel will discuss the following: (i) Role of counsel in response to workplace accommodations; (ii) Partnership with employee health provider (who should be making the actual decisions); (iii) When to recommend approval versus denial of requests; (iv) Considerations; (v) State and/or federal law concerns; (vi) Risks associated with denial of certain accommodations; and (vii) Things courts would view as reasonable accommodations.

Kristy Offitt, Bridgestone, Nashville, Tennessee


Thy Bui, Constangy, Los Angeles, California

Barbra Diallo, CBRE, Los Angeles, California

Maritza Gomez, Kelley Kronenberg, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Arooj Sheikh, Abercrombie & Fitch, Columbus, Ohio

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.           
Lunch Keynote:
The Evolution of Sexual Harassment Law – What is Severe or Pervasive
Zerlina Maxwell, Director of Progressive Programming, SiriusXM

2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.             
(Breakout) In-House Counsel only panel

(1)       #MeToo Movement from the In-House Perspective: In this session, In-House Counsel will discuss the impact of the #MeToo movement on sexual harassment investigations, approaches to litigation, PR responses, treatment of settlement agreements (non-disclosure and confidentiality provisions and tax deductions).


Room 1: Suheily Davis, McDonald’s Corporation, Oak Brook, Illinois

Room 2: Ashley James, Facebook, Menlo Park, California

(2)       Best Practices for Handling Employee Terminations: In-House Counsel in this session will discuss all the various exceptions to at-will employment (state and federal), and how those exceptions have essentially swallowed the at-will rule; the basics of what generally constitutes a "lawful" termination (which seems to be misunderstood by some HR departments); and then walk through the three phases of thinking through whether a termination is legally risky - both from an HR and legal perspective.


Room 1: Angela Simmons, Parker Hannifin, Cleveland, Ohio 

Room 2: Gerald L. Walden, Jr., The Fresh Market, Inc., Greensboro, North Carolina

(3)       Managing Threats of Violence in the WorkplaceIn this session, In-House Counsel will discuss the nature of workplace violence, strategies around preventing workplace violence, and how to respond to workplace violence when it does occur.  Participants will share best practices to manage actual and/or potentially violent situations in the workplace.


Room 1: Mia Belk, American Water, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania & Abiman Rajadurai, McDonald’s Corporation, Oak Brook, Illinois

Room 2: Rita Srivastava, McDonald’s Corporation, Oak Brook, Illinois

Litigating Employment Cases from the Perspective of the Plaintiff's Bar

To be a successful opponent, one must take time to learn and understand the other side's point of view. This panel will consist of plaintiff’s attorneys, who will share their insights and their approaches to litigating cases against employers (private or public employers). They will also share their perspectives on what makes for an effective defense counsel in an employment litigation.

Kim Boyle, Phelps Dunbar, 
New Orleans, Louisiana


Clarence Roby, Jr., The Law Office of Clarence Roby, Jr., New Orleans, LA

Justin Swartz, Outten & Golden LLP, New York, New York

3:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.             
Sexual and Other Forms of Harassment: Navigating Tough Harassment Issues in the #MeToo Era                                   

This panel will explore the current state of the law of harassment claims in the wake of the #metoo movement and highly-publicized sexual harassment scandals.  The discussion will include the underlying conduct that may lead to harassment (such as bullying, foul language, inappropriate conversations, etc.), practical steps employers can take to effectively prevent harassment in the workplace and how the #metoo movement has impacted employers’ tolerance for and response to harassment claims, including how the #metoo movement has altered how management investigates sexual harassment claims.  The discussion will also cover the defense of sexual harassment claims, the latest court rulings on employer liability for sexual harassment, and the effectiveness and enforceability of confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements and arbitration agreements.

Marytza Reyes, Sanchez & Amador, LLP, Los Angeles, California


Bahar Azhdari, Brookdale Senior Living Inc., Brentwood, Tennessee

Joan Harris, Ogletree, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Nina Huerta, Locke Lorde, Los Angeles, California

Lupe Valencia, Wells Fargo, Los Angeles, California

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.              Reception

FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2018

Small Group Topics and Leaders: 
9:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. 

Tips and Tricks for Mediating and Arbitrating Employment Cases


Danielle L. Hargrove, DLH ADR Solutions PLLC (Arbitrator and Mediator), San Antonio, TX

A. Martin Wickliff, Jr., Cozen O’Connor (Arbitrator and Mediator), Houston, Texas

Effective Performance Management and Mitigating Employment Litigation Risks


Elizabeth Ebanks, Ogletree Deakins, Richmond, Virginia

Gerald L. Walden, Jr., The Fresh Market, Inc., Greensboro, North Carolina

Use of Trial Exhibits and Demonstratives


Stacey Campbell, Campbell Litigation, P.C., Denver, Colorado

Katherine Huibonhoa, Grube Brown & Geidt LLP, San Francisco, California

M&A - Top 10 Steps to Ensure Successful and Effective Integration


Donna Hughes, Impax Laboratories, New York, New York

Jilali Maazouz, McDermott Will & Emery, Paris, France

Considerations in Drafting Settlement Agreements (Confidentiality, Non-disparagement)


Camille Stearns-Miller, Law Office of Camille Stearns Miller, Rockwall, Texas

Alana U. Thorbourne, Allen, Matkins, Leck, Gamble, Mallory & Natsis LLP, Los Angeles, California

Incorporating an Inclusion and Diversity Strategy into Sourcing and Recruitment Processes


Laura Maechtlen, Seyfarth Shaw, San Francisco, California

Travis Sumter, GlaxoSmithKline, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

9:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.           
Employment Law Update

Experienced labor and employment practitioners will provide an update on employment law, recent and pending Supreme Court cases, NLRB decisions and the anticipated focus of the Board for 2018, EEOC's enforcement strategy for 2018, latest trends and issues related to class and collective actions.

Mia Belk, American Water, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Joe Centeno, Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

M. Carter Delorme, Jones Day, Washington, D.C.

Dawn Siler-Nixon, Ford Harrison, Tampa, Florida

10:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.         
Hot Topics:  Benefits Issues Every Employment Lawyer Should Know

Although employment lawyers do not have to be experts in benefits laws, they should be aware of some of the trending benefits issues to be effective advisors (either as outside counsel or in-house counsel). This panel will engage in a discussion of five benefits-related hot topics that every employment lawyer should be familiar with to bring value to the legal department or their clients: (1) Taxation of Deferred Compensation; (2) Cybersecurity and Employee Benefit Plans; (3) ERISA Requirements in M&A Transactions; and (4) Tax reform and Employee Benefit Plans.

Michelle Thomas, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, California


Damarr Butler, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Washington, D.C.

Lacy Durham, Deloitte Tax, Dallas, Texas

Amy Pocino Kelly, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sarah Kregor, McDonald’s, Oak Brook, Illinois

12:15 p. m. – 1:45 p.m.          
Networking Lunch and Presentation of NELC Academy Fellows

1:45p.m. – 3:15 p.m.              
Navigating through the Ethical Issues in Labor and Employment Law Practice

This presentation will take us through a discussion of "ethics" beyond conflicts of interest, client confidentiality and client communications. The speaker will provide tips and best practices for ensuring compliance with ethical rules when resolving day-to-day employment and labor solutions for our clients.                                                                                     

Dennis Duffy, Baker & Hostetler, LLP, Houston, TX

3:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.             
Closing Plenary

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