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CLE’s Annual ‘Changing Currents in Employment Law’ Course Returns in October

By John Murph

September 21, 2018

Oswald R Scott

On October 30, don’t miss the D.C. Bar CLE Program’s Changing Currents in Employment Law 2018: Recent Trends and Developments, an annual course that provides an update on cutting-edge issues and the changing nature of employment law.

Moderated by acclaimed whistleblower lawyer R. Scott Oswald, managing principal of The Employment Law Group, this year’s class features five panels on topics ranging from whistleblowing after Digital Realty Trust v. Somers to the impact of the #MeToo movement on the workplace. Each panel will feature of some of Washington, D.C.’s top employment law practitioners from both sides of the aisle. 

Carla Brown of Charlson Bredehoft Cohen & Brown, P.C. and Susan Wiltsie of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP will discuss how the #MeToo movement has changed the way lawyers advise their clients on how best to raise or investigate concerns of sexual harassment.  

Oswald argues that movement has become a positive force for both employees and employers — empowering employees to come forward with less shaming, and forcing companies create better compliances and policies dealing with sexual harassment. 

“As for the law, we are already seeing the impact. Employers are now much less likely to force employees into arbitration as a result of a dispute,” Oswald explains. “They are more likely to face that employee in the light of a courtroom instead of the darkness of an arbitration. That opens companies up to public scrutiny.”  

The June 2018 passage of Initiative 77, which will phase out the minimum-wage exemption for tipped employees in Washington, D.C., is another hot topic. Paul DeCamp of Epstein Becker and Green, P.C. and Philip Zipin of Zipin, Amster & Greenberg, LLC will lead the panel “Changes to Wage and Hour Laws in 2018,” particularly the proper administration of a tip pool, the current state of the law, and when an employer can institute a tip pool. 

Susan E. Huhta of Outten & Golden LLP and David Greenspan of McGuireWoods LLP will discuss the use of experts in employment cases, focusing on considerations in selecting what type of experts to retain, including practical tips and pitfalls. 

The panel “Current Trends in EEOC/MSPB Jurisprudence” will feature Kenneth Bledsoe of the U.S. Small Business Administration and Sarah Martin of Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch, P.C. as faculty.  

“Almost two years into the Trump administration, we do not have the required number of MSPB members so that the Merit Systems Protections Board can do its work. And there is a huge backlog [of cases]. We’re hopeful that now with new nominees from the Trump administration we are going to see this backlog be whittled down,” Oswald says before arguing that there will be an uptick of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforcement actions because it has a partial set of new commissioners. “What we will see is an EEOC that is much more vigorous than some expected.” 

Andrew Adelman of Correia & Puth, PLLC and Michael J. Murphy of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. will discuss the impact of the February 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Digital Realty

“For those of us who represent whistleblowers, the Somers case was a disappointment. My hope was that the Supreme Court would come down on the side of the whistleblower. But that was not the case,” Oswald says. “Having said that, whistleblowers have some of the most robust protections under the law that they’ve ever had in this country. My sense is that cultural shift toward the whistleblower will have the greatest impact than any one case, even as important as the Somers case.”  

“Changing Currents in Employment Law” takes place from 6 to 9:15 p.m. at the D.C. Bar, 901 4th Street NW. Registration fees: $89 for D.C. Bar Community members, $99 for D.C. Bar members, $109 for government attorneys, and $129 for others. Can’t attend the course in person? Join the discussion by webinar.