2023 Convention Program

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

9:00–9:45 a.m.2023 Affiliate Leadership Workshop Registration & Networking Breakfast
(By Invitation Only)
9:45 a.m.–5:00 p.m.2023 Affiliate Leadership Workshop & Forum
(By Invitation Only)
2:00–8:00 p.m.2023 Annual Convention Registration
4:00-6:00 p.m.NELA Law Students & New Lawyers Program
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.
6:00—6:30 p.m.NELA Law Students & New Lawyers Reception
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 2023 Annual Convention Committee for an informal gathering to celebrate 38 years of employee rights advocacy, renew friendships, and make new ones. First-time Convention participants are especially encouraged to attend.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

7:00–9:00 a.m.2023 Annual Convention Registration
8:30–9:15 a.m.Paul H. Tobias Roll Call Of The States & Opening Remarks
Linda M. Correia, NELA President, Carla D. Brown, NELA First Vice President & Jeffrey A. Mittman, NELA Executive Director
9:15–10:30 a.m.Elevating Justice: Honoring Courageous Plaintiffs
Moderator: Linda M. Correia
Courageous Plaintiffs: Gerald Bostock, Jennifer Glover & Assata Kenneh
Advocates: Edward D. Buckley & Thomas J. Mew, Jay Ellwanger & Gerald T. Laurie
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.
11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.Concurrent Sessions
Litigation Strategy & DamagesBest Techniques for Getting your Opposing Party to Provide Fulsome Discovery
Moderator: Adreanna Sellers
Speakers: Angela N. Gray, Neil L. Henrichsen & Paige Sparks
Discovery is a vital piece of any case and ensuring that you get the right discovery (without the defense swamping you with unnecessary documents) is an essential skill any lawyer should have. Our panelists will discuss overcoming common objections, issues when obtaining devices for digital forensic analysis, how to use third-party discovery tools, and other key techniques to ensure you have the discovery you need to succeed.
Fundamentals of Employment LawCommon Evidentiary Issues in Employment Law
Moderator/Speaker: Lauren A. Khouri
Speakers: Christine T. Elzer, Kira Y. Fonteneau & Summer H. Murshid
How do you get helpful evidence in? How do you keep bad evidence out? The panel will cover common evidentiary issues in employment cases, from discovery through trial.
The State of Arbitration
Moderator/Speaker: Michele R. Fisher
Speakers: Jennifer Bennett & Shelby Leighton
Arbitration is changing rapidly, with some notable advances for workers in both the legislature and the courts. Our experts will discuss the current state of forced arbitration in the workplace, including how you can use effectively use the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act of 2021 to advocate for your clients.
Database Discovery—Metadata, Forms, and Fields
Moderator/Speaker: Anita M. Chambers
Speakers: Max P. Barack & Carlos A. Baradat
This panel provides an overview of data discovery basics—how databases work, what terms you should know, why data discovery is helpful and necessary, what to ask for, and how to ask for it. Practitioners will also highlight recent decisions and developments in database discovery.
Leveraging New Equal Pay and Pay Transparency Laws
Moderator/Speaker: Andrea L. Johnson
Speakers: Danielle Fuschetti & Seher Khawaja
This panel will give an overview of recent equal pay law trends and discuss how employment lawyers are using these new laws in employment litigation and the potential they hold for closing gender and racial wage gaps for our clients and our country. The panel will also discuss the important role NELA attorneys can play in advocating for these laws in their states and localities.
12:15–1:45 p.m.Annual Luncheon & Keynote Address
Moderator: Kimberly A. Bobo
Speakers: Roberto Clack, Stacy Davis Gates & Brandi L. McNease
NELA is proud to welcome worker organizers who are leading the charge in uniting their co-workers in pursuit of living wages, safer working conditions and freedom from harassment and discrimination. Join our moderator Kim Bobo (Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy) and panelists Roberto Clack (Warehouse Workers for Justice, Stacy Davis Gates (Chicago Teachers Union) and Brandi McNease (Chipotle United) to hear their incredible stories of grassroots advocacy and how NELA members can support workers as they engage in the fight to unionize.
2:00–3:15 p.m.Concurrent Sessions
Litigation Strategy & Damages Maximizing and Valuing Emotional Distress Damages
Moderator/Speaker: Paige Fiedler
Speakers: Walt L. Auvil & Carney R. Shegerian
Putting a realistic dollar value on your client's emotional distress doesn't have to be shot in the dark. We'll provide you with illuminating considerations from experienced practitioner to assist you as you value and maximize emotional distress damages for your clients.
Fundamentals of Employment Law How to Make Your Workers’ Rights Practice Profitable
Moderator/Speaker: Christopher Houk
Speakers: Amanda M. DeMatteis, David J. Fish & Melissa E. Washington
Law school teaches many things about employment law – except how to manage a workers rights practice. From case selection to budget considerations, our experienced panel will provide many practical tips on how to do well while you are doing good.
Wage & Hour Successful Wage & Hour Mediations
Moderator/Speaker: Douglas M. Werman
Speakers: Amy L. Coopman & Jason C. Marsili
Success in mediation requires more than showing up, making a demand, and having the mediator to go to work. This is true of all mediations, but especially in wage and hour cases, which often focus on systemic pay practices related damages. Experienced counsel and neutrals will discuss what practitioners can do before and during mediation to increase the chance of resolving a case successfully.
Show Me the Money…Ethically
Moderator: Deborah H. Karpatkin
Speakers: Lisa L. Clay, Matthew Lango & Cheri L. McCracken
From fee agreements to settlement negotiations, ethical pitfalls abound when money is part of the discussion. This panel will follow the money through a case, identifying potential ethical issues and help practitioners handle the financial decisions in a practical, ethical, and financially sound manner.
The Impact of Dobbs on Employment Law
Moderator/Speaker: Gillian Thomas
Speakers: Ming-Qi Chu, Phillis h. Rambsy & Rebecca L. Salawdeh
This panel will grapple with how we can best protect workers in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision overturning Roe v. Wade. As states implement a patchwork of laws codifying, limiting, or eliminating the right to abortion, myriad related employment law considerations are emerging, particularly for low-wage and other marginalized workers. From discrimination against people seeking abortion care to the need for time off to travel to obtain such services, the new landscape implicates rights under numerous federal statutes, including the PDA, ADAAA, FMLA, and the newly-enacted Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), as well as state and local laws. The inclusion in PWFA of a religious exemption also potentially compromises the protections for workers seeking accommodation of pregnancy and related medical conditions. While the session will emphasize practical solutions and litigation strategies, poli
3:45–5:00 p.m.Title VII Caps
Moderator/Speaker: Linda M. Correia
Speaker: J. Bernard Alexander, III, Heidi R. Burakiewicz& Professor Lynn R. Zehrt
The caps imposed on plaintiffs for compensatory and punitive damages in Title VII cases are outdated and unjust. Join us for a discussion of how caps work to entrench discrimination and retaliation in the workplace and how attorneys can fight back against enabling discrimination as a cost of doing business. Learn practical steps you can take to help your client achieve more just damage results and what the future holds (and how you can help!) when it comes to ending damage caps for good.
5:15–6:30 p.m.Elevating Justice: 2023 Gala Awards Ceremony
NELA Distinguished Service Honorees: Katherine L. Butler, David L. Lee & Robin B. Potter
NELA Spotlight Honorees: Lauren A. Khouri & Chiquita Hall-Jackson
Institute Honoree: The M.R. and Evelyn Hudson Foundation
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.
All are invited to help us honor five 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 annual Impact for Workers’ Award.
6:30–7:30 p.m.Annual Reception

Friday, June 30, 2023

7:00 a.m. Tobias 5K Run
7:30–9:00 a.m. 2023 Annual Convention Registration
8:45–9:30 a.m. EEOC and DOL: Tackling Systemic Barriers to Opportunity to Foster Equal Opportunity for All
Speakers: Charlotte A. Burrows, Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission & Seema Nanda, United States Solicitor of Labor
Join Chair Burrows and Solicitor Nanda as share the priorities and policies of the EEOC and Department of Labor, and how they are supporting a whole-of-government approach to advancing workplace equity. Topics to be discussed include advancing racial justice in our employment systems, promoting equal pay, and dismantling systemic barriers to hire, including tech-based hiring systems that rely on artificial intelligence, and much more. Attendees will also be given the opportunity to ask panelists questions.
9:30–10:15 a.m. A New Chapter for the National Institute for Workers’ Rights: Shaping Our Priorities, Making An Impact
Come meet Jason Solomon, the inaugural director of the National Institute for Workers’ Rights, and Erica Posey, the Paul H. Tobias Fellow, and hear about their plans to work on issues of economic dignity, workplace justice, and the future of worker advocacy. They are eager to hear your thoughts on how best to make a difference for workers and their advocates.
10:30–11:45 a.m. Revisiting The Classics
Moderator: Carla D. Brown
Speakers: Charles E. Guerrier, Paul W. Mollica & Diane I. Smason
With the ever-changing jurisprudence in the realm of employment law, it can be easy to overlook some of the most vital cases that you should have in your repertoire. Our experts will discuss the stalwart workers’ rights cases that should not be ignored.
12:00–1:15 p.m. Concurrent Sessions
Litigation Strategy & Damages The Intersection of Employment & Labor Law
Moderator/Speaker: Meredith Stewart
Speakers: Yona Rozen & Jeffrey Neil Young
With the substantial rise in worker organizing across the country, it is more important than ever for employment lawyers to understand. Panelists will discuss how the the NLRA can be used in non-union settings, the ways in which the NLRB are expanding employee rights to engage in protected concerted activity, and the administration’s recent guidance regarding immigration protections for workers engaged in labor disputes.
Fundamentals of Employment Law The Nuts & Bolts of Arbitrating An Employment Case
Moderator/Speaker: F. Paul Bland
Speakers: Krysten L. Connon & Christina Le
There are substantial differences between arbitration and court. As more employment cases are forced into arbitration, it is The panel will cover how to choose an arbitrator, how to prepare for a case management conference, how to deal with discovery restrictions often present in arbitration, whether pre-hearing and/or post-hearing memoranda are advisable and how to present a winning case to an arbitrator.
Practicing in Hostile Territory
Moderator/Speaker: Heather Newsom Leonard
Speakers: Amanda A. Farahany, Tae Sture & Deontae D. Wherry
Practicing plaintiff-side employment law is already an uphill battle, but how do you succeed in a hostile district, state, or circuit? Our panelists will share their experience working on behalf of workers in unfavorable jurisdictions and provide practical advice for how to succeed in these venues.
Helping Clients Navigate the ADA and FMLA for Mental Health
Moderator: Laura Lefkow-Hynes
Speakers: Denise M. Clark, Cyrus E. Dugger & Brian East
As societal understandings of the impact of mental health on individuals progress, employment law needs to progress as well. Our panel of experts will discuss strategies for helping clients who need accommodations, leave or disability for their mental health navigate ADA and FMLA
Representing Federal Employees 101
Moderator: Tamika Sykes
Speakers: Kristin D. Alden, Andrew J. Perlmutter & Ricardo J.A. Pitts-Wiley
So, you want to represent a federal employee? Our experienced federal sector practitioners will share their experiences on establishing a successful practice serving federal employees before the EEOC and the Merit Systems Protection Board. If you think you want to represent federal employees before EEOC administrative judges or have already started doing so and have some questions, this session is for you.
1:30–2:30 p.m.NELA Committee & Practice Group Meetings
2:30–3:45 p.m.Concurrent Sessions
Litigation Strategy & Damages I Like What I See: The Most Successful Strategies Decisionmakers Identify in Plaintiffs’ Employment Lawyers
Moderator/Speaker: Parisis “Gerry” Filippatos
Speakers: Deborah Gage Haude & The Hon. Rebecca R. Pallmeyer
Join our highly experienced panel to hear what strategies they have identified in successful lawyers during their years of deciding employment cases. Our panel features a respected Judge, mediator, and arbitrator who will share their view of what makes employment attorneys successful in each of these distinct venues and what common mistakes you should avoid making.
Fundamentals of Employment LawRemedies in Employment Law
Moderator/Speaker: Adam W. Hansen
Speakers: M. Nieves Bolaños & Brian P. Sanford
In employment cases, courts have broad authority to formulate remedies to further statutory objectives. This panel will examine the basic underlying principles civil rights remedies and discuss both the traditional and creative remedies you can pursue on behalf of your clients.
Wage & Hour FLSA Hot Topics
Moderator/Speaker: Maureen A. Salas
Speakers: Joshua D. Buck & Sabine Jean
The FLSA wage-hour landscape is constantly evolving. Join our panelists in a discussion of the most recent developments in FLSA litigation, ranging from never-ending compensable time questions, the current state of jurisdiction in collective actions, the Supreme Court’s decision in Helix Energy Solutions and other notable appellate litigation from the last year.
Rights of the Remote Worker
Moderator/Speaker: Adam C. Breihan
Speakers: Donna H. Clancy & Michelle G. Lee
As remote work became the norm for many employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now common to find employees still working from their homes and, in some instances, working from out-of-state residences. From employer surveillance to wage and hour considerations, what causes of actions can you pursue on behalf of workers who are engaging in remote work.
Issue Spotting in Whistleblower Cases
Moderator/Speaker: Michael A. Filoromo
Speakers: Renée Brooker, Rachel Geman & John McKnight
One of the biggest challenges for employment lawyers is identifying a potential whistleblower tip or False Claims Act qui tam claim amid facts that may also give rise to an employment claim. Properly vetting these cases from the start is key to preserving the paths to substantial awards for our clients. This panel will provide practical guidance on identifying fact patterns that may give rise to a qui tam or form the basis for successful tips under one of the growing number of whistleblower award programs, including those administered by the SEC, the CFTC, the IRS, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Transportation, as well as the DOJ’s bank fraud program.
4:00–5:15 p.m. Concurrent Sessions
Fundamentals of Employment LawNegotiating Agreements in Employment Law
Moderator/Speaker: Maria G. Diaz
Speakers: Sue Ellen Eisenberg, David L. Lee & Qiaojing Ella Zheng
Want to know how to deal with "take-it-or-leave-it" offers? How to deal with "standard" or non-negotiable terms? This panel will provide practical guidance on negotiating both the monetary and non-monetary terms of employment and settlement agreements to help your client achieve the best job offer or settlement agreement.
Wage & Hour Taking Wage & Hour Class & Collective Actions To Trial
Moderator/Speaker: Brendan J. Donelon
Speakers: Eve H. Cervantez & C. Ryan Morgan
Very few practitioners have ever taken a wage and hour class or collective action all the way to trial. These practitioners have. Our panelists will discuss their experiences taking the best strategies for preparing a class wage and hour trial and what is required for success.
We Are Not Absolved from Racism
Moderators/Speakers: Sacred B. Huff & Luis M. Melendez
As plaintiff-side attorneys, we often pride ourselves on doing “good work” in seeking justice for our clients. Though this may be true, we must regularly check our biases, recognize our inability to fully understand the struggles of groups to which we do not belong, and examine how we uphold racist systems and practices that oppress the people we desire to help. This panel, comprised of queer Black and Latine attorneys, will discuss ways to implement anti-racist practices and engage in more self-awareness when interacting with Black and Latine colleagues and clients.
Harnessing the Collective Power of Small Firms
Moderator/Speaker: Sarah J. Arendt
Speakers: Rebecca Peterson-Fisher & Scott M. Pollins
Most NELA (almost all!) members work in small firms. The panel will discuss how small firms can best work together to take on large matters and impact cases, including co-counseling agreements, best practices for work sharing, how to create efficiencies through technology and best platforms for doing so and considerations for fee splitting.
25 Years After Faragher-Ellerth
Moderator/Speaker: Michal Shinnar
Speakers: Allegra L. Fishel & Phillip M. Kitzer
This seminar will take an in-depth look into when and how courts are applying and denying the Faragher Ellerth and Vance defenses. This will include constructive knowledge; flawed reporting systems; the harasser's real and/or perceived authority over the employee; fears of retaliation for making a report; negligence standards; and the ways in which there has been potential shifts in the courts since #MeToo shed public light on the reasons employees can't and don't report. The panel will include strategies for case investigation and discovery on these issues.
8:00–11:00 p.m.Elevating Justice: 2023 Gala Dance Party
Please join us for this special celebration of our community. The evening includes music, dancing, and other treats.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

7:30–9:00 a.m.2023 Annual Convention Registration
9:00–10:15 a.m. Concurrent Sessions
Emerging Issues with Non-Disclosure Agreements & Non-Competes
Moderator/Speaker: Mark Hanna
Speakers: Gaylynn Burroughs, Kirby F. Cañon & Angie Cowan Hamada
NDAs have proven to be a ubiquitous villain in #Metoo abuse and corporate frauds like Theranos. With fast-moving administrative and legislative developments, including the 2023 McLaren Macomb decision, the Speak Out Act of 2022 and numerous state laws banning these types of agreements, NDAs and non-competes are finally coming under scrutiny. This panel will provide the latest on legal and legislative changes combatting NDAs and non-compete provisions and provide practical guidance to practitioners dealing with settlement negotiations.
Litigation Strategy & Damages Class & Collective Action Discovery
Moderator/Speaker: Sarah R. Schalman-Bergen
Speakers: David M. Blanchard & Michael C. Danna
Our experts will share tips for handling opt-in discovery in large collective cases, including soothing opt-in nerves in potentially being deposed and negotiating written discovery and number and length of depositions.
Fundamentals of Employment Law Putting Theory Into Practice: Effectively Litigating Age Discrimination Claims
Moderator/Speaker: Daniel B. Kohrman
Speakers: Amit S. Bindra & Brian T. Rochel
Age discrimination claims can often be complex to evaluate and litigate. Our panelists will guide you through the best practices for selecting and litigating age discrimination cases. They will also provide general tips, recent legal updates, discuss key legal decisions, and provide explanations of cases to help the audience go from the theatrical to the practical of litigating age discrimination cases.
The Board is Back – An MSPB Case Law Update
Speakers: Debra D’Agostino & Alexis N. Tsotakos
Now that the Merit Systems Protection Board is once again deciding cases, it has been steadily clearing a case backlog spanning almost 5 years. Join our panelists at they provide an update on the cases you need to know when you represent federal workers.
Practical Wellness for Lawyers
Plaintiffs’ employment lawyers work with clients who are often experiencing extreme trauma, financial hardship and life-changing events. Add those factors to the already elevated rates of mental illness and substance abuse in the legal profession, how can you stay mentally healthy? Our panel will discuss compassion fatigue, second-hand trauma, and techniques to ensure you are caring for yourself and your clients.
10:50 a.m.–12:35 p.m.The Year In Review: Significant Developments In Employment Law
Moderator: Ashley O. Westby
Speakers: Heather Newsom Leonard, Professor Eric Schnapper & Professor Suja Thomas ?
The 2023 Annual Convention will close with a robust discussion of the employment cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court during its 2022–2023 term, significant appellate court, legislative, and state law developments, as well as emerging issues in plaintiffs’ employment law.