Employment Law Update

​Conference Highlights

Our Employment Law Update covers the most significant employment law developments of the year by stripping away the legalese and providing you with practical, timely and critical advice to minimize employment law liability. Each year, the agenda is carefully selected by MSEC’s expert employment and labor law attorneys who are in a unique position to recognize important events and developing trends in employment law.


9:00 – A Review of Case Law, Legislation, and Regulations: Building Your Best Defense for the Coming Year
Barbara Wyngarden

The 2012 election left employers facing a deadlocked congress, stagnant legislative proposals and ongoing uncertainty. Nevertheless, rapid changes are taking place on the regulatory front and case law affecting employers continues to evolve. Moreover, employers in many states, including Colorado and Arizona, are anticipating significant legislative change at the state level that will impact employers. Through it all, many employers have noticed an increase in employment lawsuits, discrimination charges, new regulations, and enforcement activity by federal and state agencies. All indications point to this trend continuing for the foreseeable future. What hot employment issues should employers be aware of? What steps should HR professionals take to protect their organization? Join us for a review of the newest case law, legislation, regulation and enforcement activity likely to impact employers.

9:35 – Employer Solutions on the Road to Health Care Reform Compliance: Exchanges and Taxes and Mandates, Oh My!
Peggy Hoyt-Hoch

This session is designed for employers who want a blend of strategic perspectives and practical pointers. What are the options for labor intensive organizations with low profit margins? What about those who rely on seasonal employees, part time, minimum wage or PEO provided workers? Must employers combine employee count to determine 50 or more employees?” What’s really happening with the Exchanges, now called Marketplaces. Might this law trigger a workforce restructuring? Which employers are exempt from this? How will these changes benefit or harm employees? What does this mean for costs and administrative burdens? We will address these questions and discuss design options that fall somewhere in between Play and Pay.

10:30 – FMLA Update: The 4 Years Since the 2009 Regulatory Revisions
Mark Parcheta

What have the courts been saying since the FMLA regulations were revised? When can an employer use the honest belief defense? How far can an employer go to enforce call-in procedures without crossing the line? Why will more adult children be covered as eligible family members to take FMLA leave? Is there a difference between direct and indirect care of a family member? How can an employer enforce the employee’s duty to cooperate in providing medical information? This session will address many of the important judicial decisions interpreting the FMLA during the years since the regulatory revisions.

11:05 – The Legal and Psychological Aspects of Mental Illness in the Workplace: From Aberrant Behavior to Workplace Violence
Dr. James Turner and David Dixon

Some “unusual behavior” likely happens every day in most workplaces. An employer’s legal duty to provide a safe work environment finds itself increasingly in tension with determining how best to respond to workplace conduct related to mental impairment. Whether in the workplace, or society-at-large, failure to effectively manage mental illness may bring consequences from simple organizational inefficiencies to the more tragic and violent consequences we have all too frequently seen.

MSEC is proud to feature Dr. James Turner, a globally-recognized pioneer who has spent more than three decades on the front lines in real-time workplace situations, defining the field of applied psychology devoted to risk assessment. He has authored multiple books and articles on workplace issues and is a faculty member at Alliant International University, California School of Forensic Studies.

In a mix of psychological and legal analysis, Dr. Turner and MSEC Staff Attorney David Dixon, share a series of interactive vignettes designed to help employers to deal with the signs and symptoms of mental illness that increasingly create disruption in the work place. Experience an active learning presentation that highlights the complex mix of behaviors that employers must recognize to effectively manage this increasing workplace problem.

12:15 Lunch

1:30 – How Much Is Enough? Leaves of Absences and Other ADA Accommodation Issues
Allan Estroff

The EEOC and most courts have determined that a leave of absence is an ADA reasonable accommodation and that companies must be flexible in providing leave to disabled workers even if it means going beyond leave or attendance policies. This program will examine how flexible employers must be in granting initial and continued leave extensions beyond the FMLA and their policies. Is there a maximum amount of leave that if granted creates a “safe harbor?” How many extensions does an employer have to grant before leave becomes indefinite? Dealing with EEOC’s position that attendance and showing up at work is not an essential job function. How do you prove that providing a leave or an extension is an undue hardship?

Additionally we will discuss what constitutes engaging in a formal ADA “interactive process,” the consequences of failing to do so and a look at some recent ADA rulings.

2:10 – BYOD: Smart Phones and Tablets Go to Work
Cheri Vandergrift

With the evolution of technology, the line between on-duty and off-duty has blurred beyond traditional expectations. Personal and business activities now overlap when employees use smartphones, tablets or laptops for work. Employers will be forced to address the question of how to react to the inevitable use of personal or shared devices by their employees.

Can companies dictate what employees can and cannot download to their own device? How do companies balance their need to protect sensitive data while providing employees flexibility in how they perform work? What employee privacy concerns arise if litigation ensues and the employee is asked to turn over the device to counsel? Companies who ignore the rising Bring Your Own Device tide may find that BYOD brought nothing but disaster.

2:50 – Dude, Where’s My Job? Enforcing Drug Policies in the Age of “Legal” Marijuana
Curtis Graves

Colorado is on the forefront of marijuana law in the United States. While this was arguably true after Colorado’s Amendment 20 eliminated criminal penalties for state-sanctioned medical marijuana use, it became undeniable with the passage of Amendment 64—which “legalized” the recreational use of marijuana—in the November 2012 General Election. This session explores best-practices in marijuana drug-testing, enforcement of employer drug policies and addresses how employers can manage off-duty marijuana use by employees

Non-members can attend for $219. Please call registration at 303.894.6732 to sign-up.