Thank you to the 2013 NELC conference sponsors for their contributions:


2013 NELC Conference Descriptions

Four Seasons Hotel, Houston TX
April 24 – 26, 2013

Session #1
It’s the Election, Stupid!  What Employers Need to Know about the Impact of the 2012 Election
Same administration; Same power structures in Congress and the Senate.  Will partisan politics continue to rule the day after the 2012 election is complete?  This panel will discuss how the re-election of President Barack Obama may affect employers in the areas of:  traditional labor, Employment Litigation, regulatory agencies (EEOC, DOL/OFCCP, OSHA, etc.) and Health Care/Benefits law.
Session #2
Light-Duty, A Heavy Topic: Best Practices for Light-Duty/Transitional Work Policies under the ADA and the FMLA  
It is not unusual for matters dealt with by employers and employees to implicate multiple statutory schemes or laws. This panel will address dealing with employee leaves of absence, return to work, and light/modified duty as implicated by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Internal Revenue Code, ERISA, and workers compensation statutory and common law protections. Attendees will develop methods for identifying issues and meeting obligations under the ADA and FMLA; learn how their company’s policies can help/hurt the company; and obtain practical tools to strategically improve leave of absence, accommodation, and related processes/policies.
Session #3
The Aftermath of Noel Cannning – What Now?
The D.C. Circuit's January 25, 2013 decision in Noel Canning v. NLRB had the immediate effect of invalidating a single NLRB decision affecting one employer. However, the practical effect of the decision -- which expanded upon the Supreme Court's New Process Steel opinion by ruling that the Board is currently powerless to act because there have not been at least three confirmed or properly recess appointed members since at least January 3, 2012 -- is effectively endless in scope. This panel will discuss the D.C. Circuit's rationale in rendering its decision in Noel Canning, analyze the most polarizing decisions that will potentially have to be relitigated, explore the potential ripple effects of the NLRB's inability to legally act without a quorum, and provide some best practices for employers dealings with the Board during this period of uncertainty.
Session #4
Have you heard the one about . . . Labor and Employment Roundtable Discussion
Get the updates on the latest and greatest in Labor and Employment law and the opportunity to share experiences and advice with practitioners throughout the country.  This panel will facilitate a discussion among the NELC attendees using audience questions and wide-ranging feedback on a variety of recent labor and employment law issues and legal decisions impacting employers, including but not limited to the legal issues regarding “Bring Your Own Devices to Work” policies, discovery issues that may arise with social media and allowing employees to use their own devices, off-duty access and a general update on recent decisions. 
Session #5
The Journey from Legal Technician to Trusted Advisor: Pick up your road map here
This presentation will provide a road map for making a successful transition from serving in a legal technician function to that of a trusted business advisor, sought out for one’s wisdom and judgment, in addition to one’s legal expertise.  The road map is based upon the speakers’ collective experiences in law firms, in-house legal departments and business units.  Speakers will discuss the following areas attorneys should focus on when transitioning to a business advisor, including: substantive legal knowledge, leadership development, communication and learning style assessment, risk management and business education.   The panel will also address the rules of professional responsibility on conflicts of interest as they relate to advising CEOs and other executives, particularly of publicly held companies, when representing the institution.  Participants will learn the framework designed to help attorneys develop a portfolio of skills, knowledge and experience to become a trusted advisor.
Session #6
Workplace Investigations: Human Resources and Compliance on Trial
The focus of employment litigation has changed and so have the targets.  At an increasingly alarming rate, human resource professionals, compliance professionals and other investigators (occasionally attorneys) are becoming the focus of litigation.  Not only has the plaintiff’s bar become more aggressive at challenging the timeliness and veracity of workplace investigations, but recent rulings have increased the scrutiny on internal and external investigators.  From the Novartis case of 2010 to the 2012 NLRB decision limiting the circumstances under which employers may ask witnesses to keep investigatory interviews confidential, the legal landscape is rapidly changing.  This presentation will use witness videos to demonstrate how investigations should be conducted, how to privilege investigations and how to limit the scope of investigations.  This presentation promises to be substantively informative, interactive, and engaging.
Session #7
Ethics and Crisis Management – (Ethics CLE Credit)
This panel will discuss practical issues of ethics and professional responsibility faced by in-house and outside counsel responding to and managing ongoing crisis involving their clients.  Issues will include conflicts of interests; attorney representation issues involving corporate constituents; preservation and waiver of the corporate attorney-client privilege; media issues including use of consultants; confidentiality and privilege issues involving social media and computer use; inquiries by and disclosures to auditors, boards and other interested parties.
 
 

Breakout #1
Armed and Dangerous: Protecting Your Employees from Violence
Violence is becoming a common phenomenon in today’s workplace.  Whether it be a scorned lover meeting an employee in the parking lot, a disgruntled employee wreaking havoc in the office, or a purely random act, employers are responsible for protecting their employees and keeping them safe on company property.  However, the contradicting requirements of state and federal law often leave employers feeling like their hands are tied.  Our panel will address the challenges employers face from the intersection between EEOC criminal background check guidance, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, state stand your ground laws, and state bring your gun to work laws.  The panel will identify common pitfalls and provide compliance advice.

Breakout #2
NAFTA: Minimizong Risks as a North American Employer
Following the passage of NAFTA in 1994, there has been a substantial increase trade increases among Canada, Mexico and the U.S. With laws opening the economic borders, U.S. companies have taken advantage of opportunities to do business with its neighbors. Indeed, after NAFTA, many U.S. companies have moved manufacturing and production facilities to Canada and Mexico. This panel explores the legal and practical aspects of U.S. companies employing workers in Canada and Mexico, including what companies should know before cutting head count in those countries, preventing workplace harassment abroad, and the enforceability of restrictive covenants.
Breakout #3
Ethical Minefields and eDiscovery: A Perfect Match  (Ethics CLE Credit)
Clawbacks, safe harbors, metadata mining, fraud, privilege breaches, fairness, you name it.  As if compliance with civil procedure rules was not enough, eDiscovery also raises a wide and growing range of ethical issues, including issues that have the potential to challenge not just attorneys’ ethical obligations but also their relationships with their own clients.  In this program, we will explore the latest ethics opinions, both from bar associations and the courts, and best practices for tiptoeing smartly, but ethically, through the eDiscovery minefield.  
Breakout #4
The New Gold Rush: California’s Latest Wave of Laws Favoring Employees
California’s legislators continue to create and expand protections for an expanding 21st Century workforce and employers must be mindful that these new laws have traditionally paved the way for similar legislation in other states and at the federal level.  The new California laws mostly coming into effect in the January 2013 timeframe can be categorized as (1) expanding and/or further defining protected categories under state anti-discrimination laws; (2) further refining state wage & hour laws; and (3) miscellaneous provisions that govern the employment relationship. This panel explores those new California developments, their impact on today's workplace, as well as provides practical insight on how these new pro-employee rights can be managed.  
Breakout #5
Wage and Hour Litigation/Increased DOL Enforcement Activity/Application of Dukes to Collective Actions
This panel will discuss recent court opinions applying Dukes to FLSA collective actions, the two-step certification process and the Rules Enabling Act, including the Fifth Circuit’s review of this issue.  Additionally, this panel will discuss strategies for preparing your company as in-house counsel and preparing your clients for collective actions and the growing wage and hour litigation trends such as rounding lawsuits, healthcare institutions and off-the-clock work with PDAs. 
Breakout #6
They’re Not Our Employees.  Really!:  Legal Compliance in the Age of the Contingent Workforce 
You can't enter the company break room or watch the evening news without hearing mention of the problem with unemployment in this economy.  Many attribute unemployment to a poor economy, while others counter that the reality is that we are witnessing the end of jobs as we have known them.  Some studies predict that the increase in contingent workers will be 3-4 times the increase in traditional jobs.  As companies increasingly rely on a contingent workforce, government regulators are increasing their scrutiny of these alternative labor relationships.  This session will review the various legal issues relating to contingent labor, including, but not limited to, pre-employment screening, benefits and wage and hour issues, as well as offer practical suggestions to avoid legal landmines in these areas. 
Breakout #7
It’s More Than Just the Xs and Ys:  Getting a Handle on Gender Identity and Expression in the Workplace  
Fifteen states, the District of Columbia, and 140+ local governments have laws expressly prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression.  One Circuit Court ruled that while transgender individuals do not make up their own protected class, such individuals might still enjoy protection from workplace discrimination under the recognized protected classes of sex and gender if an employer takes adverse action because an employee’s appearance and/or behaviors do not conform to gender stereotypes. The EEOC ruled that Title VII protects transgender individuals from discrimination.  These rulings signal a sea change that will likely influence transgender employment-law cases on issues such as benefits, hiring and firing decisions, personnel policies, the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation, facility assess and accommodation, customer preferences, and training.  This panel will discuss the legal and practical impact of these developments on employers, offer participants best practices to consider for their own organizations and/or clients, and assess the risks and benefits of proactively protecting transgender employees in the workplace.

Breakout #8
No Union, No Problem...But Is It?  The NLRA's Impact on Non-Union Employers
Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act has wide-reaching implications in the workplace - for unionized and non-unionized employers.  Over the past year, the NLRB has expressed an interest in topics that extend beyond its traditional landscape.  As a result, non-union employers must now reassess their actions and policies in an effort to avoid violating employees' rights to engage in "protected, concerted activity" under the NLRA. This interactive panel will review recent NLRB decisions showing how confidential human resource investigations, provisions in employee handbooks, mandatory arbitration programs and social media policies may violate the NLRA, as well as offer best practices for addressing these issues.