Labor and Employment Law

Labor and Employment Law Section Annual Report (2013-2014)

In General

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; In-House Counsel, OFCCP, and State and Local Government Contractor Compliance Practice; Labor Relations; Class Actions; Community Outreach; and Federal and Public Sector.
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Steering Committee

Steering committee members are:

Michelle Bercovici (Alden Law Group)

Laura Fentonmiller (U.S. Department of Justice)
Jonathan Gould (Law Office of Jonathan L. Gould)
Paul Knupp (Slevin &Hart, P.C.)
Stephani Abramson (National Archives and Records Administration)

Avi Kumin
(Katz, Marshall & Banks)
Emily Read (The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law)
Alexis Taylor (D.C. Office of Human Rights) 
Adria Zeldin (Passman and Kaplan).

Steering Committee Cochairs Michelle Bercovici and Avi Kumin and the chairs of the committees generally attend each monthly steering committee meeting in person or via conference call, to provide updates on program development and other initiatives of the section. D.C. Bar Board of Governors member Amy Bess serves as our liaison from the D.C. Bar Board of Governors, and also participates in the steering committee meetings. This year the steering committee has re-organized and reduced the number of standing committees on a trial basis. We are in the process of beginning to recruit additional members for the standing committees and to use these committees as a way to engage new leaders and to keep existing leaders involved and engaged. At the end of this year, we will re-examine the new structure to determine whether the new model should be retained, or whether the section should implement an alternative model, with the input of section members. The most active committee has been the Community Outreach Committee, which meets separately by phone or email when necessary to work on special programs, such as the Youth Law Fair, and which regularly provides volunteers to the advice and referral clinic. The committee has been effective not only in providing community service but as a way for members to become more active in LELS. Email communications are used between regular meeting times in order to maintain proper coordination of activities and events.

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Program Development

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 panelists or presenters in each program, although exceptions do occur.

In the area of annual updates on case law trends, the section sponsors an annual Employment Law Update, featuring section member and nationally-known speaker Robert Fitzpatrick. This program took place on January 28, 2014.  On March 14, 2014, the section sponsored a program entitled “Transgender Law Panel,” which was a presentation and discussion regarding D.C. and federal laws that apply to transgender employees.  Panelists included experts from the National Center for Transgender Equality, Trans Legal Advocates of Washington, and Whitman-Walker Health Legal Services.  On March 27, 2014, the section presented a program entitled “Navigating the Appeals Process in Denial or Revocation of Security Clearance Cases,” featuring both a top practitioner in the area and the Acting Director of the Defense Office of Hearings & Appeals. 

On April 29, 2014, the section will present a program entitled “Ethics in Employment Law and Litigation,” featuring top plaintiff- and defense-side employment litigators and Saul Jay Singer, legal ethics counsel for the D.C. Bar. Finally, the section also has a program in development on the federal and D.C. Family and Medical Leave Acts. In addition, each of the Labor and Employment Section's past and upcoming programs has been co-sponsored by and advertised to the membership of several other sections, and the Labor and Employment Law Section has also co-sponsored several programs put on by other sections.
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CLE Programs

For the 2013-2014 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. The CLE Program reports that new CLE programs in the employment law area were developed by members of the CLE Committee and other volunteer section members. 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.
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Judicial and Networking Receptions

Each year, the Labor and Employment Law Section sponsors a judicial reception hosted at a local law firm, and invites members of the federal and state bench to attend, as well as the leaders of federal and state agencies. The Judicial/Agency reception was held in the fall this year, in September 2013. This year's event drew a number of Judges and Agency officials, and we had RSVPs from well over 80 section members. The event was also featured in the Washington Lawyer. In light of the success of the event and the positive feedback we received from members, the section has decided to hold a Spring Networking Reception this year as well. The section has planned this event for May 2014, and is optimistic for another high turnout.
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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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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. 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 have increased our presence there and usually have had lawyers at both the NW and SE D.C. locations. In March 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. Section members continue to participate at law clinics directed to the operators of local Small Businesses on the full panoply of in employment, labor, and management issues. Steering Committee Member Jonathan L. Gould leads the section’s community outreach initiatives. 

In addition to volunteering, this fiscal year the section voted to increase its commitment to providing financial contributions to community organizations and pro bono services. In January 2014, the section provided funding to the D.C. Employment Justice Center  (“EJC”) for the publication of the 6th edition of the EJC’s Worker’s Rights Manual. The EJC has updated us on the status of the Manual, which, as of April 1, 2014, has been finalized for online publication and is in the process of being finalized for printing. The section looks forward to continuing work within the community, especially with organizations that provide employment and labor related legal assistance or advice to low income individuals and who provide services to the community.
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The Labor and Employment Section continues to hold a leadership role in updating the D.C. Practice Manual. In February 2014, the section completed updates of the D.C. Practice Manual in numerous practice areas, including: Employment-At-Will, Wage & Hour, Unemployment, Employment Discrimination, DC FMLA, DC Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act, Individual Rights in Unions, Worker’s Compensation for DC Government Employees, and DC Whistle Blower Protection Act. Stephani Abramson leads the D.C. Practice Manual project for the section. Last year, the section was considering exploring expanding and revising sections of the Practice Manual dealing with Employment Discrimination and Labor Unions, in response to feedback from committee and section members.  While the section decided to delay this revision, we continue to seek potential authors for the revision, and are hopeful that these additions may be implemented in connection with the next year’s revisions to the Manual.
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The steering committee continues to work with the Sections Office staff to ensure that information on the Labor and Employment Section web page is current and useful. We are very happy with the new D.C. Bar website. Now that the website updating is complete, the section plans to publish a newsletter in the upcoming month on the website, with information concerning the EJC donation and past and upcoming programing. Additionally, the section is exploring the opportunity to host, on the Bar’s website, a Reduced Fee Directory of employment law practitioners (members of the section) who are willing to provide reduced-fee services to individuals of “modest means”. The section will also be one of the initial sections to host a one-way Listserv email list beginning this coming month, which we hope will allow us to better communicate with our membership without always relying on the support of D.C. Bar staff.
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Nominating Committee

The nominating committee, chaired by Committee Chair Emily Read, and including Laura Fentonmiller and Jeff Bartos, recently nominated a slate of eight (8) candidates to fill three (3) steering committee vacancies for 2014.
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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 Adria Zeldin serves as Financial Officer for 2013-2014. Keith Greenberg serves as Membership chair, and will work with Sections Office staff in 2014 to assist in membership recruitment efforts.
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