All Times Are EDT

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

11:30–11:45 a.m.

Welcome Brunch & Convention Orientation
Grab a front-row seat and join your NELA colleagues for our 2021 Annual Convention.

11:45 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

Paul H. Tobias Roll Call Of The States & Opening Remarks
Wade B. Cowan, NELA President & Jeffrey A. Mittman, Executive Director

12:15–1:00 p.m.

Honoring Courageous Plaintiffs
Moderator: Wade B. Cowan
Courageous Plaintiffs: Laura Andrade, Shannon Miller, & Jimmy Nicks
Advocates: Christopher Benoit, Dan Siegel, Camille Fundora Rodriguez & Sarah Schalman-Bergen

1:30–2:30 p.m.

Anti-Racist Lawyering
Moderator: Phillis h. Rambsy*
Speakers: Professor Ibram X. Kendi* & Professor Joan C. Williams

How do you incorporate anti-racism into your practice? How can you use this knowledge to litigate race discrimination cases where you have no egregious comments—but clear racism? This blockbuster panel of experts will discuss how anti-racism works and innovative strategies to help practitioners take on more race discrimination cases.

3:00–4:00 p.m.


Trauma Informed Advocacy
Moderator/Speaker: Allegra L. Fishel
Speakers: Dr. Robert T. Carter & Sunu P. Chandy

How can lawyers, even well-seasoned ones, become more sensitized to the needs of clients who have experienced trauma, recognizing that trauma & emotional suffering that may impact the litigation? This panel will examine the strategies necessary to effectively advocate for clients who have suffered traumatic experiences, including racial trauma.

Maximizing Your Success In Collective And Class Wage And Hour Litigation
Moderator/Speaker: Omar V. Melehy
Speaker: Reena I. Desai & Jason C. Marsili

This session will guide practitioners through the challenges of case preparation and execution of collective actions under the FLSA and class actions under Rule 23. The topics include: the nuts and bolts of collective actions; Rule 23 class actions under state wage and hour laws; deciding whether to bring individual or class or collective actions; methods for locating and ethically communicating with additional plaintiffs or potential opt-ins; dealing with Rule 68 offers of judgment and other strategies used by defendants to under-cut claims or eliminate collective or class claims; communicating with class members in ways that will allow you to present your liability and damages claims effectively; and pleading FLSA claims to avoid issues under Iqbal/Twombly.

4:30-5:30 p.m.


The Equal Pay Act: Fighting Affirmative Defenses, Proving Liability, & Assessing Damages
Moderator/Speaker: Christine T. Elzer
Speaker: Nina T. Pirrotti*

This session will explore the Equal Pay Act’s affirmative defenses, with particular focus on the “factor other than sex” defense. It will provide an in-depth look at recent case law, and will discuss practice tips for best resisting the employer’s defenses to pay discrimination. Additionally, our experts will discuss the fundamentals of economic damage claims, including identifying pay gaps, how to obtain the right compensation data through discovery, and highlighting damage claims that may be overlooked.

Effective Techniques In Representing Individuals With Mental Disabilities
Moderator/Speaker: Mark D. Sherinian
Speaker: Brian East & Professor Alison Morantz

Employees with mental and psychological disabilities are often ridiculed and demonized in the workplace and in some cases, they have difficulties in social situations. This session would focus on the challenges associated with representing this class of disabled persons and making them feel comfortable, along with effective techniques for winning these types of cases, convincing judges and juries to rule for you and dealing with defense tactics of discrediting or maligning this group.

6:00-7:15 p.m.

NELA 2021 Gala Awards Celebration
Honorees: Janice Goodman, M. Megan O’Malley & Kira Fonteneau
Join us as we gather for our 2021 Gala Awards Celebration to toast another incredible year of strong advocacy for workers and present the 2021 awards for distinguished service to the NELA community.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

11:00 a.m.–11:45 a.m.

Wellness For Lawyers

12:00–12:45 p.m.

Keynote Address

1:00-2:15 p.m.

Polarizing The Employment Case (Trial Practice & Damages)
Moderator/Speaker: J. Bernard Alexander
Speakers: Dennis E. Egan* & Geraldine Sumter*

2:45–3:45 p.m.


Encountering Sexism & Racism In The Practice Of Law
Moderator/Speaker: Renuka V. Jain*
Speakers: Professor Kim Norwood & Judge Angela Robinson*

When implicit bias presents itself, from a judicial officer and/or opposing counsel, it can be both demeaning and frustrating and gives attorneys pause as to whether the case will be fairly adjudicated or not based on the immutable characteristics of the attorney. This panel will address mechanisms for all attorneys to recognize the conscious (or unconscious) stereotyping of attorneys based on numerous factors & how to confront these implicit and explicit biases. This session will also provide information to non-minority attorneys on how to recognize when these situations are occurring, & what they can do to help stop the spread of stereotypes and implicit bias in decision making.

Handling Your Bad Facts
Moderator/Speaker: R. Scott Oswald
Speakers: Carla D. Brown & James H. Kaster

Almost every case contains some bad facts. Because they don't disappear, what are the best ways to deal with them? We intend to confront common bad facts, and some of our best trial lawyers will help turn lemons into lemonade.

4:15–5:15 p.m.


Whistleblower Claims In A Time Of Upheaval
Moderator/Speaker: Julie K. Bracker
Speakers: Elizabeth Riles & Vince McKnight

Whistleblower claims are on the rise and very much in the public eye. This introductory session will cover the broad range of complex issues surrounding whistleblower litigation. From issue spotting and protected activity to the basics of qui tam and bounty statutes, this panel will help guide you through whistleblower claims on both a federal and state level.

Creative Techniques For Proving Damages
Speakers: Alicia K. Haynes* & Laura L. Ho*

5:45-6:45 p.m.


Bostock & Zarda One Year On
Moderator/Speaker: Ria Tabacco Mar*
Speakers: Gregory S. Antollino & Thomas J. Mew

How has the Bostock decision changed the legal landscape in the past year? In addition to the vital importance of the case to workers, Bostock has also been cited in an ACA case and a fair housing case. How will Bostock affect workers in employment cases where religious discrimination is at stake?

Ethics—Should You Have Those?
Sometimes clients take emails or documents from their workplace that prove their case. Many times, Defendants argue your client had not right to take possession of those documents. This session will discuss trade secrets law, & how to avoid landing in an unethical situation, still accessing the evidence you need.

6:45–8:00 p.m.

Networking Event

Friday, June 25, 2021

Before 12:00 p.m.

Tobias 5K At Home

10:00–10:30 a.m.

Yoga For Stressed Out Attorneys
Join us for an invigorating and accessible yoga class that will improve both your physical and mental wellbeing.

10:45 a.m–11:15 p.m.

Brunch With The Institute
Grab your breakfast or coffee and join our Paul H. Tobias Attorney Fellow, Christy England, and Institute Board President Rebecca Salawdeh to learn about the vital work of The Institute.

11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.


MSPB: Litigation Strategies for Federal Sector Claims in the No-Board (No AJ?!) Era
Moderator/Speaker: James M. Eisenmann
Speakers: Donna W. Rucker & William L Boulden, Chief Administrative Judge, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board

The lack of Merit System Protection Board members is drastically changing the landscape for Federal employees who must seek redress at the MSPB. Two agencies have successfully sidelined MSPB AJs from hearing initial appeals. What are your options for getting your client’s claims heard and/or appealed? Come to this advanced panel to hear from James M. Eisenmann, formerly General Counsel (2010-2013) and Executive Director of the MSPB (2013-2018), and experts in the field to find out how to navigate the various federal personnel claims around the new and emerging barriers.

The Impact Of COVID-19 On Age Discrimination
Moderator: Joseph D. Garrison
Speakers: Samuel J. Cordes, Dara S. Smith & Dwight Steward*

Reductions in force and restructuring often impact older workers disproportionately. During COVID-19, these impacts have been even more apparent. This session will discuss how to prove disparate impact of these actions on different age groups and how to use statistics to strengthen your case.

1:00–2:00 p.m.


Creating Themes In Employment Cases
Moderator/Speaker: Megan Goddard
Speakers: Amanda A. Farahany* & Bruce A. Fredrickson*

Advanced Topics In Title IX Litigation
Moderator/Speaker: Deborah K. Marcuse
Speakers: Monica Shah & Adria L. Silva

This panel will feature national Title IX experts and employment lawyers who routinely litigate discrimination claims against colleges and universities. The panel will consider the relevant legal factors to determine whether an individual is an employee of an educational institution, and whether individuals with dual student/employee roles (for example, graduate students) have employment claims in addition to educational discrimination claims. The panelists will shed light on the benefits and drawbacks of bringing litigation under Title IX as opposed to, or in addition to, Title VII to address employment discrimination, including addressing issues related to exhaustion of administrative remedies, the statute of limitations, discovery, and the standards of proof under both statutes.

2:30–3:30 p.m.


Not The Perfect Plaintiff
Moderator: Francisco Mundaca*
Speaker: Brenda Adams* & Lisa J. Banks*

Advanced FMLA Topics
Moderator/Speaker: Rebecca G. Pontikes*
Speakers: N. Sue Allen* & Jason Han*

This session will address addressed topics in Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) litigation. Topics include the impact of the 2009 regulatory amendments to constructive notice claims, joint employers under the FMLA, FMLA class actions, and much more.

4:00–5:30 p.m.

The Year In Review: Significant Developments In Employment Law
Moderator: Ashley O. Westby
Speakers: Professor Eric Schnapper & Richard T. Seymour

The 2021 Virtual Convention will close with Professor Schnapper and Mr. Seymour discussing the employment cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court during its 2019–2020 term, significant legislative and state law developments, as well as emerging issues in plaintiffs’ employment law

Program subject to change without notice.