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Thursday, June 25

    Wednesday | Friday | Saturday

7:00–9:00 a.m.

Registration & Continental Breakfast

8:30–9:30 a.m.

Roll Call Of The States & Opening Remarks
Paul H. Tobias, NELA Founder, David L. Lee, NELA President & Terisa E. Chaw, NELA Executive Director

9:30–9:45 a.m.

NELA Ethics & Sanctions Committee Presentation

10:00–11:30 a.m.

The Year In Review: Significant Developments In Employment Law
Moderator: Paul H. Tobias
Speakers: Professor Eric Schnapper & Richard T. Seymour
The 2015 Annual Convention will open with Professor Schnapper and Mr. Seymour discussing the employment cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court during its 2014–2015 term, significant legislative and state law developments, as well as emerging issues in plaintiffs' employment law.

11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Annual Luncheon
The Annual Luncheon is included in the registration fee for Convention registrants only. Guest tickets for the Annual Luncheon may be purchased at the Registration Desk or at the door.

12:45–2:00 p.m.


Smart Technology In Ethics & In Evidence
Moderator: Subhashini Bollini
Speakers: The Honorable Alan J. Baverman & David Wachtel
Smart technology is fundamentally changing information processing, behavior, and the law. This panel of two experienced litigators and a U.S. Magistrate Judge will discuss difficult ethical and evidentiary issues arising out of the use of smart phones and other portable devices containing electronically stored information (ESI). Ethical concerns include confidentiality, privacy, and security. They also will explore issues related to the discoverability of the range of evidence found on smart devices and the admissibility of electronic communications, including building the requisite foundation to get your important ESI evidence admitted.

Common Interest Doctrines: A Double-Edged Sword
Moderator/Speaker: Jon W. Green
Speakers: Kevin D. Fitzpatrick & Robin B. Potter
Worker centers and unions are key players in the battle for a living wage and a variety of other workers' rights. They are allies who send us clients and work with us during litigation—we like to keep our conversations with them private and shielded from discovery. On the other hand, defense counsel for subsidiaries, staffing agencies, and co-employers are teaming up against plaintiffs and refusing to disclose the content of their communications. Employers even claim relevant conversations with former employees are privileged! Shouldn't we be entitled to this information? This panel will address the current state of the case law relating to the joint defense and common interest doctrines and other theories and best practices that we can use to keep conversations with allies privileged or, in the alternative, force their disclosure.

Accommodating Employees With Mental Disabilities
Moderator/Speaker: Brian East
Speakers: John A. Beranbaum & Lorrie McKinley
Handling mental disabilities in the workplace can be problematic for both the employee and employer. Our speakers will examine the social science literature on the difficulties faced by employees with mental disabilities in performing their jobs and recognized accommodations used to overcome those obstacles; case law on what accommodations courts have found reasonable (and not) for employees with mental disabilities; issues that arise caused by the failure of employees with mental disabilities to disclose their condition or to give adequate notice of their need for accommodations; misconduct relating to mental disability; issues relating to the interactive process; and lingering prejudice against people with mental illness by both employers and courts.

Navigating The Maze Of Private Sector Whistleblower Anti-Retaliation Laws
Moderator/Speaker: Ann Lugbill
Speakers: Debra S. Katz & Jordan A. Thomas
The proliferation of whistleblower retaliation and reward laws has created a complex maze of claims and remedies. This presentation will examine issues that frequently arise in private sector whistleblower cases. Our speakers will examine recent developments under the Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank Acts, preserving retaliation claims while pursuing reward claims, choosing the optimal forum, minimizing claim splitting and claim preclusion risks, and exhausting administrative remedies.


Feedback Blowback: How We Use Or Abuse The Feedback Loop
Moderator/Speaker: Elizabeth A. Rodgers
Speakers: Carol Gillam & Fern H. Singer
Feedback blowback is the adverse reaction to appreciation, coaching, or evaluation. It affects every employment lawyer and every employee. As employment lawyers, we are trained to attack, evaluate, and rebut false or biased feedback in employment. Many of us have no training in giving or receiving feedback ourselves. We in turn may give feedback, often in a zealous way, to colleagues and subordinates, leaving our own employees feeling unappreciated, criticized, or unsupported. Negative or absent feedback can explode into discharge or an employee quitting. Few of us know how to accept and be grateful for negative feedback, or how to coach our clients to do so, when a curious and grateful response actually can illuminate misunderstandings or identify deficiencies which can be corrected. Can we teach our still-employed clients how to have challenging conversations to preserve their job after a devastating review? Our panelists will discuss the research, theory, and practice in giving and receiving feedback.


Advocating For Servicemembers & Veterans: Recent Developments In The Law
Moderator/Speaker: Kathryn S. Piscitelli
Speakers: Peter Romer-Friedman & Captain Samuel F. Wright
The Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act protects civilian job rights and benefits for veterans and members of the active and Reserve components of the U.S. armed forces. USERRA provides that returning servicemembers must be promptly reemployed in the same position that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service with the same seniority, status, and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority. Our experts will provide you with an overview of recent developments in the law and provide connections to networks so you can help our country’s servicemembers and veterans enforce their rights.

2:15–3:30 p.m.


Arbitration: If You Can’t Avoid It, Win It!
Moderator/Speaker: Barbara E. Figari
Speakers: Joyce F. Glucksman & Paul J. Lukas
This presentation will focus on using various techniques to navigate the arbitral forum should it be unavoidable. Topics include how to oppose a motion to compel arbitration after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, evidence found during hearings on the Arbitration Fairness Act, discovering conflicts of interest among arbitrators, strategies to obtain all necessary discovery, forcing greater transparency in the process, and successful tips to achieve a favorable award.

Strategies & Tactics

Strategic Thinking On Selected Issues In The Employment Relationship
Moderator/Speaker: Ed Buckley
Speakers: Lisa J. Banks & Kevin G. Powers
This interactive session will explore strategies to fight against non-compete, confidentiality, and trade secret agreements, the employee'+s duty of loyalty, at-will employment, and other unfair terms and conditions of the employment relationship. Consideration will be given to what to do when your client is accused of breaching a restrictive covenant and how to defend at the TRO and preliminary injunction stage. The panelists and audience will also share successful tips and advice to provide clients who face these and other workplace challenges.

What You Need To Know Before Taking A Case
Moderator/Speaker: Chip Muller
Speakers: Janet E. Hill & Geraldine Sumter
Case selection is vital for a successful employment law practice. What do you need to learn from a potential client before agreeing to take the case? This presentation is geared for new lawyers and will focus on client intake, retainer agreements, and getting paid. Our speakers will share best practices on client intake, vetting potential plaintiffs, protecting yourself through retainer agreements, collecting payment, dealing with non-paying clients, and developing a case plan that will endure.


A Motive Centric To Motive Neutral Theory Of Proof In Discrimination
Moderator/Speaker: Thomas A. Newkirk 
Speakers: Professor Anthony G. Greenwald & Richard E. Johnson
Advances in social science tell us that old assumptions about the nature of bias are in error. That the causes of discrimination are not entirely due to conscious nor entirely due to subconscious behavior. It is often both. Science also confirms that bias can include positive images of the in-group that contribute to harm even if no negative images of the out-group are present. On the legal front, greater appreciation for multiple motives shows us that going forward, the law should be capable of providing a remedy for any form of bias—conscious, subconscious, favorable or unfavorable. These forms of bias all generate decisions because of protected status and should violate the law. The question is how to understand these concepts and how to properly frame them as fitting within the law. This session advances a better understanding of the science and framing to allow us all to move farther down the inevitable road to a more motive-neutral approach to discrimination—a road that allows us to do more good and win more cases.


Dealing With Difficult People
Moderator: Glen D. Savits
Speakers: Jane Juliano, Ellen J. Messing & Richard Zitrin
Most people know someone who seems to make every situation toxic and impossible. Pointing out that these people are difficult and demanding won't get you anywhere though because odds are they don't even see a problem. You can learn how to navigate interactions with difficult people and preserve your own sanity. This presentation will offer strategies and tactics for identifying and defusing people with difficult personalities—potential clients, current clients, and others. Our panelists will share practical solutions for helping you to cope effectively and alleviate potential burnout while maintaining your ethical obligations in representing mistreated employees. Ethical issues to be explored are zealous representation of your client, client confidentiality, defining the boundaries in the attorney-client relationship, and more.


Proving Damages In An FLSA Case
Moderator/Speaker: Trang Q. Tran
Speakers: Robert J. Camp & Jamie G. Sypulski
This interactive discussion with skilled and experienced mediators will offer frank, behind-the-curtain advice about what plaintiffs' lawyers handle well (and not so well) in mediations. In addition, they will share their "top 10" tips about what we can do better in formulating demands and counter offers, interacting with our clients, addressing the delicate issue of attorneys’ fees issues in mediation, and handling our working relationship with the mediator.

An Insider's View: Tips On Forging A Career Path In Employee Rights Advocacy
Moderator/Speaker: Clark Taylor, Paul H. Tobias Attorney Fellow
Speakers: Amanda A. Farahany, Kristi L. Graunke & Marcus G. Keegan
Law students and recent graduates are invited to join NELA and The Employee Rights Advocacy Institute For Law & Policy (The Institute) for an engaging and interactive discussion on a career in plaintiffs’ employment law. Experienced employment law practitioners will answer questions on how to enter the plaintiffs' employment law field and tips on identifying and securing job opportunities in this ever-changing area of the law. The panelists will discuss what skills and experience can help law students be successful employee advocates as they begin their legal careers. NELA and The Institute encourage Convention attendees to participate in this program as part of our continuing commitment to developing the next generation of employee advocates.

 3:45–5:00 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions

Trial Advocacy

The Art Of Trial Preparation
Moderator/Speaker: J. Bernard Alexander, III
Speakers: Michelle Dye Neumann & David Schlesinger
Whether you're a seasoned trial lawyer or preparing for your first trial, this panel will cover all you need to know about preparing for trial—from the basics to the advanced. Trial preparation is as much an art as the trial itself. Three trial lawyers with varying styles and experiences will discuss what to do—and not to do—to prepare for a successful trial.

Taming The Beast—Proven Summary Judgment Response Strategies
Moderator/Speaker: Rebecca G. Pontikes
Speakers: Katherine L. Butler & Jonathan J. Margolis
Responding to summary judgment motions is a critical aspect of any NELA member's practice. There are several things that need to be done in each case that can help all of our members have better chances of surviving summary judgment. Our panelists will examine key elements that will help you in choosing good summary judgment-proof cases, gathering sufficient facts in discovery to respond to the inevitable motion for summary judgment, and marshalling the evidence within your response brief and appendix.


The Impact Of Hobby Lobby On Employee Protections
Moderator: Zena E. McClain
Speakers: John P. Madden & Paul W. Mollica
Our speakers will examine the U.S. Supreme Court's definition of "persons" under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA); the scope of the RFRA's protection of religious practices; the legal effects of the Court's decision on employer challenges to the Affordable Care Act's coverage of other medical procedures; the decision and its nexus to banned employment practices like race and LGBT discrimination; and the next big test—applying Hobby Lobby to nonprofits and large publicly traded corporations.


Ethics In The Age Of Technology
Speakers: Charles W. "Bill" Day, Jr. & John L. Mays
In an age where office and communication technology has been improving and expanding at an exponential rate, the practice of law has changed significantly. While many of these changes have made life easier for the practicing attorney, it has become difficult for even the most tech-savvy attorney to keep abreast of all of the changes and its associated risks. Our speakers will explore issues that could create ethical problems for today's plaintiff's employment attorney, such as maintaining client confidentiality in the cloud, spoliation, potential ex parte contact through social media, and other issues created by electronic discovery and the use of smart devices.


"Similar In Their Ability Or Inability To Work": How The Interaction Of The PDA & ADAAA Heightens Employers’ Obligations To Accommodate Pregnant Workers
Speakers: Professor Samuel R. Bagenstos & Sarah Crawford
Our panelists will examine the issue of pregnant workers who have been denied workplace accommodations that they need to continue working safely during pregnancy; the legal obligation to accommodate pregnant workers that arises under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) when employers accommodate other workers who are similar in their ability or inability to work; how this obligation is heightened by the interaction of the PDA and Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA); the role of the EEOC in addressing discrimination against pregnant workers under the PDA and ADAAA; and proposed legislation to strengthen pregnant workers' rights to accommodations. They also will focus on PDA claims available to pregnant workers who are denied workplace accommodations, rather than claims for direct coverage under the ADAAA for pregnancy-related impairments that rise to the level of a disability.


What Employment Lawyers Need To Know About Criminal Investigations
Moderator/Speaker: Matt Kaiser
Speakers: Ethan Levin-Epstein & Ingrid S. Martin
There are a few ways that employment lawyers can be affirmatively helpful when there’s a pending criminal investigation—without compromising the employment representation—and there are a few ways that an employment lawyer can make things significantly worse for later criminal counsel. This presentation will explore how criminal investigations work so that employment lawyers have more insight about the process. Our speakers will address not only how you can help in a criminal investigation, but how to tell when you need to reach out to criminal counsel in the first place.

6:00–7:00 p.m.

Annual Reception
The Annual Reception is included in the registration fee for Convention registrants only. Guest tickets for the Annual Reception may be purchased at the Registration Desk or at the door.

    Wednesday | Friday | Saturday
  Program subject to change without notice.