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VOL. 127 | NO. 238 | Thursday, December 06, 2012

Webinar Looks at Employment Law

By Andy Meek

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At least from a regulatory perspective, the fog is starting to lift on what the next several years will bring in the way of employment law changes and updates.

With that in mind, the labor and employment law firm of Fisher & Phillips LLP is hosting two separate hour-long webinars this month for employers to get a sense of what change might be on the horizon. Especially of interest to employers will be insights from Fisher & Phillips attorneys on what to expect from agencies like the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Through rulemaking and regulation, those agencies could bring about change that impacts a variety of employment practices like hiring procedures and discharge investigations. The two Fisher & Phillips seminars at which employers from around the country can log on and learn about those and other items will be held Tuesday, Dec. 11, starting at 1 p.m. and Dec. 18, also starting at 1 p.m.

The Dec. 11 session currently is full, but interested participants can register for the second session by visiting https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/238580321.

“I think there’s going to be some really helpful information here,” said Jeff Weintraub, managing partner in Fisher & Phillips’ Memphis office. “We’re likely to have a certain amount of gridlock coming out of Washington over the next four years. That’s going to be interesting to watch. There’s a lot legislatively that could be on the table.

“Where the rubber meets the road is what’s going to happen out there in the world of the EEOC, the labor board, things from the previous four years, expansion of employment laws and what that means going forward.”

It’s an understatement to say it’s a hot topic in the legal community at the moment. Only a few days before the first of the two Fisher & Phillips webinars, for example, the Memphis Bar Association’s Labor & Employment Law Section is holding a daylong annual seminar at which several prominent national speakers will address these same topics.

The speakers include two members of the EEOC, U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Julia Gibbons and Lafe Solomon, action general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board.

Topics for the two events are not going to be similar. Katharine Kores, district director for the EEOC Memphis office, said topics for the Memphis Bar event are likely to include such issues as the EEOC’s interest in guidelines for employers on the use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions, as well as the broader view of sex discrimination coverage under Title 7.

Weintraub mentioned those topics as well, among others, such as employers making certain decisions because of employee communication on social media channels and a practice described as “pregnancy discrimination.”

“They’re trying to develop case law with regard to pregnancy discrimination,” Weintraub said. “One of the areas being when a female has been forced into an unpaid leave status after being denied accommodations that are perhaps routinely provided to other non-pregnant, similarly situated employees.

“The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community also is pushing hard to expand the Title 7 sex discrimination provisions. Historically, the provisions have referred to biological sex, not sexual preference.”

Weintraub said he sees a lot more employment litigation and EEOC charges on the horizon and that it behooves employers to brush up on pertinent information as much as they can.

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