Labor and Employment Law

Labor and Employment Law Section Annual Report (2014-2015)

The Labor and Employment Law Section has had another successful year of programs, receptions, community outreach events, and other activities. Details of our activities since our last annual report was submitted can be found below:

Steering Committee
The Labor and Employment Law Section Steering Committee has nine members and operates through monthly steering committee meetings and through its six committees: EEO &Individual Rights; Labor Relations; Class Actions; Community Outreach; In-House Counsel, OFCCP, and State and Local Government Contractor Compliance Practice; and Federal and Public Sector.

Current Steering Committee Members are:

Stephani Abramson (National Archives and Records Administration)
Michelle Bercovici (Alden Law Group)
Lorrie Bradley (Murphy Anderson, PLLC)
Megan Cacace (Relman, Dane & Colfax)
Laura Fentonmiller (U.S. Department of Justice)
Avi Kumin (Katz, Marshall & Banks)
Paul Knupp (Slevin & Hart, P.C.)
Edgar Ndjatou (McCree Ndjatou, PLLC)
Alexis Taylor (D.C. Office of Human Rights)

Avi Kumin and Megan Cacace currently serve as Co-Chairs of the Steering Committee.

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The Labor and Employment Law Section continues to develop programming in three areas important to our membership: (1) fundamental training issues for labor and employment practitioners;(2) annual updates on case law trends in particular practice areas; and (3) timely programs on recent trends, legislative developments, or other hot topics in the labor and employment field. The section strives to maintain a balanced perspective of both plaintiff- and defense-side panelists or presenters in each program.

The section sponsored a number of successful programs this year, including:

    • Wal-Mart v. Dukes: Perspectives and Strategies From Both Sides of the "v." (September 23, 2015): This panel program featured leaders from both plaintiff-side and defense-side class action firms, including Christine Webber of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll; Michael Leider of Mehri & Skalet; and Barbara Johnson and Erin LaRuffa of Paul Hastings.
    • You're Pregnant? You're Fired! (October 8, 2014): This panel presentation included plaintiff-side practitioner Tom Spiggle of the Spiggle Law Firm; defense-side practitioner Deborah Kelly of Dickstein Shapiro; Emily Martin of the National Women's Law Center; and Cynthia Calvert, former co-director of the Center for Worklife Law.
    • Microbehaviors (October 21, 2014): This presentation featured a nationally known speaker on the topic of microbehaviors such as tone, eye contact and other non-verbal actions, and how they can affect the workplace.
    • Smart Phone Discovery (December 16, 2014): This program included speakers from plaintiff and defense-side law firms, a technology expert, and former U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola.
    • Family and Medical Leave Act (January 8, 2015): This panel on the law and practical implementation of the federal and D.C. Family and Medical Leave Acts included appearances from Department of Labor attorneys.
    • Annual Employment Law Update (January 28, 2015): The section again sponsored its annual Employment Law Update, featuring attorney Robert Fitzpatrick. Due to popular demand and the scope of materials to cover, this year the section will offer a second part of this Employment Law Update program on April 28, 2015.
    • Free Speech in the Federal Workplace (March 25, 2015): This panel included Bruce Fong, Associate Special Counsel at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, and Mark Maxin, Assistant General Counsel for Administration at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
    • Unemployment Benefits Law & Practice (March 3, 2015): This panel included D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings Administrative Judge Nicholas Cobbs; Tonya Love, Director of the Claimant Advocacy Program at the Metro-DC AFL-CIO; and Thomas B. Martin, Partner at Goldblatt Martin Pozen and Director of the Employer Advocacy Program at the D.C. Chamber of Commerce.

The section also has several other programs in the pipeline, some that are nearly finalized and others that are in development. Several that are nearing completion are:

    • Criminal Background Checks (expected June 2015): The section will sponsor a program on criminal background checks in employment, including D.C.'s new "Ban the Box" legislation, which will include speakers from both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and private practice.
    • D.C. Wage Theft Prevention Act (expected June 2015): The section will sponsor a program on the District of Columbia's new Wage Theft Prevention Act of 2014,which will feature speakers from the D.C. Employment Justice Center and private practice.
    • National Labor Relations Board (expected summer 2015): The section will sponsor a program on the key recent decisions of the National Labor Relations Board, to include union- and management-side practitioners, as well as a representative of the NLRB.

In addition to panel programs, the section sponsored two receptions this year: one held on September 17, 2014, and another to be held on May 13, 2015. The receptions are hosted at a local law firm, and invite members of the federal and state bench, as well as the leaders of federal and state agencies. This year, the Fall Reception drew judges and agency officials and drew a relatively high turnout, and we expect a similarly high turnout for the Spring Reception.
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Community Outreach
The Labor and Employment Law Section continues to maintain a strong presence in the D.C. community through a number of outreach programs. Steering Committee Member Edgar Ndjatou leads the section's community outreach initiatives and spearheaded a new venture this year: a winter coat and clothing drive, which was held in January 2015 and benefitted the D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The section sponsors and contributes volunteer staff to the D.C. Bar Advice and Referral Clinics, held on the second Saturday of each month. We typically have attorney volunteers at the clinic each time the clinic is open. In December 2014, a Workplace Street Law Program was held at several area high schools, with respect to which our section contributed through the participation in planning discussions and through the participation of members. 

In addition to volunteering, this fiscal year the section has continued to provide financial contributions to community organizations and pro bono services. The section provided $1,500 in funding to the D.C. Bar’s Pro Bono program, $1,500 to the D.C. Employment Justice Center, and $500 to the Youth Law Fair. These donations for 2014-15 were all significantly higher than they were in previous years; in 2013-2014, for example, the total donations for the section was $150.
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Membership and Financial
The Labor and Employment Law Section's financial condition is sound. Membership remains stable, and we believe our reserves are more than adequate. Steering Committee Member Paul Knupp serves as the Financial Officer for 2014-2015. Keith Greenberg serves as Membership chair.
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In 2014-2015, as in past years, the Labor and Employment Law Section contributed a section to the annual D.C. Bar Practice Manual. This year’s updates were coordinated by Steering Committee member Stephani Abramson, and featured updates on the law from a number of plaintiff- and defense-side practitioners. Additionally, our Steering Committee has been discussing whether periodic newsletters, distributed to the members of our section who have elected to participate in our one-way Listserv e-mail list, would be of interest to our members, as well as potential content for such newsletters.
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Public Statements
The Labor and Employment Law Section Steering Committee has not published any public statements since our last Annual Report.
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CLE Co-Sponsored Programs
For the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the Labor and Employment Law Section focused on its own section program planning, while the Bar’s CLE Program worked with faculty volunteers to update existing classes and finalize courses that had been in development, including topics that the section had suggested in past years. Both the section and the CLE Program look forward to collaborating to develop new CLE classes in the coming fiscal year. In the interim, they are working to ensure timely sharing of program topics so as to avoid duplication of efforts and to promote good and frequent communication between Bar staff and the section. The section appreciates the CLE Program’s efforts and looks forward to continued and increased collaboration in the year ahead.

Respectfully submitted,

Avi Kumin and Megan Cacace
April 8, 2015
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