Thursday, June 30, 2022

9:00–10:00 a.m.2022 Affiliate Leadership Workshop Registration & Networking Breakfast
(By Invitation Only)
10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.2022 Affiliate Leadership Workshop & Forum
(By Invitation Only)
2:00–8:00 p.m.2022 Annual Convention Registration
2:00–3:30 p.m.NELA Committee & Practice Group Chairs Meeting
(By Invitation Only)
4:00-6:00 p.m.NELA Law Students & New Lawyers Program
Speakers: Joseph W. Gibson & Austin Webbert
Law students, recent law graduates, and those new to plaintiffs’ employment law are invited to join NELA and the National Institute for Workers’ Rights for an engaging and interactive discussion on how a career in plaintiff-side employment law offers a unique and meaningful way for new lawyers to use their skills to drive progressive social change. Experienced employment law practitioners will discuss their work as advocates for workers’ rights and how it intersects with and advances other social justice issues including civil rights, immigration, environmental justice, LGBT rights, and gender equality. The panelists also will address how to enter the plaintiffs’ employment law field and what skills and experience can help law students be successful advocates as they begin their legal careers.
6:30–8:00 p.m.President’s Welcome Reception
Convention participants are invited to join NELA President Linda Correia, the NELA Executive Board, and the 2022 Annual Convention Committee for an informal gathering to celebrate 37 years of employee rights advocacy, renew friendships, and make new ones. First-time Convention participants are especially encouraged to attend.

The President’s Welcome Reception is generously co-sponsored by AARP Foundation Litigation & the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA)



Friday, July 1, 2022

7:00–9:00 a.m2022 Annual Convention Registration
8:30–9:15 a.m.Paul H. Tobias Roll Call Of The States & Opening Remarks
Linda Correia, NELA President, Jeffrey A. Mittman, NELA Executive Director & Carla Brown, NELA First Vice President
9:15–10:30 a.m.Workers Rising: Honoring Courageous Plaintiffs
Moderator: Linda M. Correia
Courageous Plaintiffs: Stephanie Edwards, Owen Diaz & Charlotte Newman
Advocates: Nina T. Pirrotti, J. Bernard Alexander, III, Lawrence A. Organ & Lawrence M. Pearson
The Convention’s opening plenary session will bring to life the stories of three remarkable individuals who stood up to their employers and held their ground in the face of immense adversity, not only to vindicate their own rights, but to improve the lives of others as well. Our honorees embody the change we want to see in the American workplace, and their courage to rise to the challenge will inspire us to continue the fight for equality and justice for all. Their lawyers will share their legal theories and litigation strategies that led to their clients’ extraordinary victories.
10:45 a.m.–12:00 p.m.Concurrent Sessions
Countering The Latest in The Defendant’s Bag of Tricks
Moderator/Speaker: Brian P. Sanford
Speakers: Toni J. Jaramilla & Michael Levin-Gesundheit
How can you stay ahead of the latest from opposing counsel? This panel will examine emerging defense tactics and give practical advice for countering these tactics.
Litigation Strategy & Damages
Litigating Intersectional Discrimination Claims
Moderator/Speaker: Clare J. Horan
Speakers: Deborah K. Marcuse, Professor Kimberly J. Norwood & Phillis h. Rambsy
Intersectionality can be a vitally important (but often overlooked) part of a discrimination claim. Our experts will examine the roots of intersectionality and examine strategies for bringing intersectional employment discrimination claims.
Cutting Edge Employment Law
Diversifying The Plaintiffs Bar
Moderator: Rasha Zeyadeh
Speakers: Chiquita Hall-Jackson & Lisa P. Mak
The legal profession has a diversity issue, and so too does the plaintiffs’ bar. Many NELA members represent those who have been discriminated against because of race or disability, but we oftentimes don’t look like or share the same life experiences as those we represent. This panel will explore how to better recruit, retain, and mentor diverse attorneys.
Litigating Worker Misclassification Claims
Moderator/Speaker: Rachhana T. Srey
Speakers: Clif Alexander & Mark Hanna
Join our experts as they share strategies for how to best litigate misclassification claims, addressing what factors should be considered when taking a case. The panelists will also discuss current trends in misclassification litigation and what changes we can expect in the future.
Arbitration Strategies in Employment Cases
Moderator/Speaker: Karla A. Gilbride
Speakers: Caroline E. Bressman, Adam L. Koshkin & Christian R. Schreiber
Join our panel of experts as they discuss the best ways to arbitrate on behalf of your clients. Panelists will discuss mass employment arbitrations, emerging legislative trends, and tips and tricks to make the most out of arbitration.
12:00–1:30 p.m.Annual Luncheon & Keynote Address
NELA is privileged to welcome Derrick Palmer, Vice President of Organizing for the Amazon Labor Union, as this year’s Annual Convention Keynote Speaker. The Organizing for the Amazon Labor Union is the first union representing Amazon workers in the United States.
2:00–3:15 p.m.Concurrent Sessions
How To Draft a Great Demand Letter to Get Your Opposing Counsel to Settle the Matter Prior To Litigation
Moderator: Maria G. Díaz
Speakers: Paige Fiedler, David L. Lee & Rasha Zeyadeh
How can you make such a persuasive argument that opposing counsel has no choice but to settle? Join our experts for an in-depth look at the components of a great demand letter in employment cases.
Litigation Strategy
Negotiating Company Practice Changes
Moderator: M. Nieves Bolaños
Speakers: James M. Finberg, Anna Y. Park & Rebecca Peterson-Fisher
In many cases, money is not enough to truly remedy the harm caused by an employer. This session will join experts from high-profile cases as they discuss the ins and outs of negotiating company practice changes, including during class and collective action litigation. Panelists will also address how to enforce practice changes once they are agreed upon.
Cutting Edge Employment Law
Ethical & Practical Considerations When Stepping Away from Your Law Practice
Moderator: Joseph D. Garrison
Speakers: Ida Abbott & Nicholas J. Enoch
At some point all of us will step away from our law practice. Whether for illness, retirement, parental leave, or just to take a break, there will come a time when you need to know how to take that step back. Join our practitioners for tips and strategies to ensure you are prepared for the ethical and practical challenges that might arise when you step away.
Defamation in Employment Cases
Moderator: Kirby F. Cañon
Speakers: Hilary P. Hammell, Noah Lebowitz & Vincent Tong
Discrimination in the workplace often also involves defamation claims. This panel of expert practitioners will provide an overview of defamation torts and defamation claims under California law in the employment context.
CA/9th Circuit Law
Whistleblower & Retaliation Lawsuits
Moderator: Ann Lugbill
Speakers: John W. McKnight & Alexis H. Ronickher
Join our panel of experts as they take you through the nuts and bolts of whistleblower and retaliation claims. From the statutes that cover whistleblowers to the common elements of retaliation claims, this panel will ensure you can represent the next whistleblower who walks through your door with confidence. What information about a client’s employer can be shared?
3:45–5:00 p.m.(Not So) Historical Racism: How Institutionalized Prejudice Impacts Workers
Moderator/Speaker: Anna P. Prakash
Speaker: Professor Sherry D. Soanes
Too often we think of historical racism and exploitation as something we have overcome and can examine through an academic lens. However, the same insidious stereotyping and prejudice from the very beginning of our history as a country continues to impact today’s workforce. This panel will discuss how historical and institutional racism continues to create disparities in the workplace and how plaintiffs’ employment lawyers can look past the black letter of the law and be creative when addressing these issues on behalf of their clients.
5:00–6:00 p.m.We Rise. We Lead. We Celebrate. 2022 Gala Awards Ceremony
All are invited to help us honor three of your colleagues for their inspiring contributions to the NELA community and the cause of justice for workers. In addition, the National Institute for Workers’ Rights will be presenting their inaugural Impact for Workers’ Award. We also will take a moment to pay tribute to the members of our community we have lost in the last three years.
NELA Honorees: Menaka N. Fernando, Joseph D. Garrison, & Victoria W. Ni
Institute Honoree: Kazan McClain Partners’ Foundation
Speakers: Katherine L. Butler, Linda M. Correia, Diane S. King, Karen Maoki, Jeffrey A. Mittman & Nina T. Pirrotti
6:00–7:00 p.m.Annual Reception
The Annual Reception is included in the registration fee for Convention registrants only. Guest tickets for the Annual Reception may be purchased at the Registration Booth or at the door.
The Annual Reception is generously sponsored by Morgan & Morgan

Saturday, July 2, 2022

7:00 a.m. Tobias 5K Run
7:30–9:00 a.m. 2022 Annual Convention Registration

9:30–10:45 a.m. But-For Causation After Bostock
Moderator: Linda M. Correia
Speakers: Charles E. Guerrier, Neelima Vanguri & Professor Deborah A. Widiss
This panel will analyze the various Supreme Court cases that have set forth the “but-for” causation standard of proving discrimination and will consider whether McDonnell Douglas even makes sense in a post-Bostock world.
10:45–11:00 a.m. Ethics & Sanctions Committee Presentation
11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Concurrent Sessions
Staying Organized Before & During Litigation
Speakers: Laura C. Mattiaci, Marjorie M. Mesidor & Brian T. Rochel
Often the key to a good trial is good organization. Our panelists will share their tips and tricks for staying organized during the litigation process from prep to trial day.
Litigation Strategy
Identifying & Overcoming Biases
Moderator/Speaker: Bryan J. Schwartz
Speakers: Cristal L. Cabrera, Christina Cheung & Professor Joan C. Williams
This panel of experts will help advocates re-examine our own practices and biases, both in client representation and firm culture. From client intake and selection to which attorneys are speaking during staff meetings, it’s time for all of us to unlearn our biases and take a closer look at how we can make the legal profession more equitable for clients and attorneys.
Cutting Edge Employment Law
As California Goes, So Goes the Nation?
Moderator: Paul M. Falabella
Speakers: Menaka N. Fernando, Kevin Kish & Mariko Yoshihara
California is home to many new pieces of progressive legislation at both the state and local levels that protect workers. From the Silenced No More Act and lower standards for equal pay claims to upcoming legislation on caregiver protection, California is paving the way. California has also faced pushback, however, including a Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court. Our panelists will discuss what is working (and what isn’t) and provide a guide for advocates in other states who want to help support positive legislative changes in their states.
CA/9th Circuit Law
Litigating Leave Cases: Interference and Retaliation Claims
Moderator/Speaker: Rebecca G. Pontikes
Speakers: Patricia A. Barasch & Adria L. Silva
The FMLA and state counterparts provide employees with robust—and often underutilized—protections against interference and retaliation for exercising (or attempting to exercise) their rights to take leaves of absence. In particular, interference claims can be particularly powerful because they do not require proof of discriminatory intent. This panel will cover the many often over-looked situations in which employees can bring claims for interference and retaliation, how interference and retaliation claims differ, and the remedies available in leave cases.
12:45–2:15 p.m.Box Lunch
NELA Committee & Practice Group Meetings
2:15–3:30 p.m.Concurrent Sessions
Tesla & Other Large Recoveries for Workers
Moderator/Speaker: J. Bernard Alexander, III
Speakers; David A. Lowe, Lawrence A. Organ & Elizabeth “BB” Sanford
Hear from some of the top experts about what worked (and what didn’t) in big trial wins for workers, including the record-breaking Tesla trial.
Litigation Strategy
Working With the Press in Litigation
Moderator/Speaker: Dara S. Smith
Speakers: Darci E. Burrell & Jennifer Mondino
To give the interview or not? What ethical rules are implicated when discussing a case with the press? Will this help my client? How much should my client say? Will this article help or hurt our case? These are just some of the questions that lawyers and clients grapple with when deciding whether or not to engage the media during litigation. Featuring experienced attorneys who regularly and successfully navigate the media, this panel will inform lawyers on how to use the media to advance their client’s case in an impactful and ethical manner.
Cutting Edge Employment Law
Appellate Employment Practice
Moderator/Speaker: Michael C. Subit
Speakers: Jennifer Bennett, Allison Ehlert & Adam Hansen
Most employment law practitioners will wind up in appellate court at some point. This panel of both federal and state experts will share tips and strategies on how to preserve issues for appeal, how to create a sound record, and most importantly, when to ask for help.
Equity Compensation 101 & Beyond
Speakers: Rob Depew, Nora C. Ostrofe & Jennifer Schwartz
Whether negotiating an offer letter or litigating a wrongful termination case, understanding equity compensation is key to ensuring that clients receive the compensation they are due. This panel of equity compensation experts will walk through the most common forms of equity compensation (stock options and RSUs), contractual provisions that can protect a client’s equity compensation, how to calculate damages in cases involving unvested equity, and important tax considerations that every attorney dealing with equity compensation should know. This session will address beginner and intermediate equity compensation topics.
Class Actions – What You Need to Know from The Experts
Speakers: Cyrus E. Dugger, Byron R. Goldstein & Sabine Jean
Class actions are a powerful tool to hold employers accountable for workplace violations. This panel will guide practitioners through strategies, pitfalls, and tips to bring successful class action suits in employment cases. From those who are just starting to take class actions to those who want to refine their skills, this panel will cover both wage and hour and discrimination claims.
3:45–5:00 p.m. Concurrent Sessions
Evidence in Summary Judgment v. Trial Day
Moderator: Amanda A. Farahany
Speakers: James H. Kaster & Christine E. Webber
You’ve survived summary judgment; now how do you make sure you know what evidence you can use at trial?
Litigation Strategy
COVID-19 Claims
Moderator/Speaker: Denise M. Clark
Speakers: Phillip M. Kitzer & Kendall N. Onyendu
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on workers and the state of work in general. This session will examine the many unique claims that advocates may start to litigate as the pandemic enters new phases.
Cutting Edge Employment Law
Ethical Issues In Contacting Witnesses
Moderator/Speaker: Deborah H. Karpatkin
Speakers: Ben Lebsack & Ellen J. Messing
The ethics rules on interviewing defendant’s employees and ex-employees can be confusing. Can you interview current employees, even if defense lawyers say they are represented? What about retired executives and HR managers? Come to this session to learn how to keep on the right side of the ethics line, while advancing your client’s goals.
False Claims Act for Employment Lawyers
Moderator/Speaker: Renee Brooker
Speakers: Rebekah L. Bailey, Jacklyn N. DeMar & Darth M. Newman
This presentation will guide workers’ rights advocates through the basics of bringing a False Claims Act (FCA) case against a company on behalf of the government. How does a company violate the False Claims Act? What’s in it for the whistleblower and their employment counsel? Join this FCA 101 panel to get all the answers.
Making the Most of Expert Testimony in Employment Litigation
Moderator/Speaker: Lauren A. Khouri
Speakers: Dr. Robert A. Bardwell & Laura L. Noble
Experts can be a vital part of any litigation strategy, but how do you find the right expert? What case is the right one for an expert? This panel will address the best ways to select and prepare expert witnesses and identify non-traditional experts that can be of use in employment cases.
8:00–11:00 p.m.We Rise. We Lead. We Celebrate. 2022 Gala Dance Party
Please join us for this special celebration of our community—together again after three years! The evening includes music, dancing, and other treats. Every Gala attendee will receive two complimentary drink tickets courtesy of Dundon Advisers LLC. Drop in anytime.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

7:30–9:00 a.m.2022 Annual Convention Registration
9:00–10:15 a.m. Concurrent Sessions
Hiring Jury and Trial Consultants in Employment Cases
Moderator/Speaker: Benjamin F. Westhoff
Speakers: Ed Chapin, Harry Plotkin & Bobby Shukla
Jury and trial consultants can provide valuable insight for workers’ rights advocates headed to trial. This panel will discuss the latest, greatest, and most cost-effective options (e.g., mailed questionnaires, virtual focus groups, in-person focus groups, mock trials, etc.) to prepare for trial. Want to know when to hire a consultant or when to use a focus group? Join our panel of experts to find out.
Litigation Strategy
“I Object”: Objections in Wage and Hour Class Action Settlement
Speakers: Valerie Brender, Cornelia Dai, Todd Jackson & Beth Terrell
Two of the most challenging situations that arise in wage and hour practice are dealing with objectors to a class settlement and responding to a settlement in a competing case. This panel of experts will address the most common issues that arise when objectors become involved in a class settlement: evaluating the adequacy of a settlement, reverse auctions, the first-filed rule, motions to intervene, and objector discovery.
CA/9th Circuit Law
The Employee Who Stays: Representing Current Employees
Moderator: Kristi L. Kingston
Speakers: Hillary Benham-Baker, Parisis G. “Gerry” Filippatos & Rebecca L. Salawdeh
One of the most challenging situations that advocates face is how to advise an employee who is still employed. Difficult choices abound, such as whether to advise the client to report unlawful treatment, how and to whom they should report, whether and how they should participate in the employer’s investigation, how to deal with active retaliation, and what to do if the employer does not take the corrective action that the employee wants. What about the employee who needs accommodations? This panel will discuss the most common legal and strategic concerns that face an employee who remains in the workplace after raising legal claims.
Choice of Law and Forum Selection Clauses in Employment Cases
Moderator/Speaker: Carla D. Brown
Speakers: Daniel S. Brome & Christine T. Elzer
What do we do when we represent a worker employed in our state who has a contract governed by state law in a state 1500 miles away? Is there a difference if an arbitration clause contains the inconvenient forum choice? Practically speaking, what is the best choice? If we choose to dispute the forum selection or choice of law clause, where do we do it? Do we file the case in our home state anyway? Can the client be sued for breach of contract? We have all been confronted with these problems and we will now get some expert advice on solving them.

10:45 a.m.–12:30 p.m.The Year In Review: Significant Developments In Employment Law
Moderator: Ashley Westby
Speakers: Heather Newsom Leonard, Professor Eric Schnapper & Dara S. Smith
The 2022 Annual Convention will close with a robust discussion of the employment cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court during its 2021–2022 term, significant appellate court, legislative, and state law developments, as well as emerging issues in plaintiffs’ employment law.