A week after nearly 200 executives, managers and human resources professionals attended McAfee & Taft’s EmployerLINC 2012 in Tulsa, hundreds more gathered at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City this morning for this annual employment law and employee benefits seminar. In all, 800 people registered for the two events, drawing from not only Oklahoma, but also Arkansas, Missouri and Texas.
The theme for this year’s seminar was “Adventures in HR” reflecting “the dangers, thrills and challenges of the workplace every day,” such as the maze of state and federal rules and regulations to navigate, common traps and lesser-known legal pitfalls to avoid, and obstacles to overcome.
In today’s seminar, the opening session featured a panel (pictured at right) of local human resources professionals, including Russ Moen of Express Employment Professionals, Anita Breen with the City of Edmond, and Scott Briggs with The Oklahoma Publishing Company (OPUBCO). Moderated by employment attorney Charlie Plumb, the panelists shared their insights on some of the hottest issues that they are dealing with in the workplace.
Following the general session were six breakout sessions, which covered some of the most frequently requested topics.
Employment attorneys Paul Ross and Betsy Wood discussed the issue of workplace bullying and its legal implications during his presentation titled “Ticking Time Bombs.” Employee benefits attorney Bill Freudenrich and Teah Corley, CEO of consulting firm PremierSource, presented “Hidden Treasure,” a discussion of the latest strategies for finding potentially significant cost savings in your health plans as well as legal implications of dealing with issues such as smokers in health plans.
In another session titled “Operation: Sanity,” employment attorney Michael Lauderdale (pictured at left) shared practical tips for dealing with the traps and pitfalls of employee terminations, basic management and interpersonal skills that help diffuse the anger of discharged employees, and a litigation strategy of “winning” lawsuits by avoiding them altogether. Employee benefits attorneys Jim Prince and Alison Patel discussed how retirement plan fiduciaries can minimize their exposure to personal and corporate liability, and shared actual examples of lawsuits against plan fiduciaries in a session titled “Proceed with Caution.”
In his presentation titled “Dodging Bullets,” employment attorney Nathan Whatley offered tips for handling wage and hour audits by the Department of Labor, what specific issues the agency is targeting, and what you can do to avoid other wage and hour surprises. Finally, employment attorneys Tony Puckett and Sharolyn Whiting-Ralston presented “Avoiding the ADA Abyss,” which focused on three challenging aspects of The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) that frequently threaten to trip up employers.
This annual seminar, held in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa each year, is McAfee & Taft’s largest and most anticipated event of the year, offered at no cost to employers, firm clients and invited guests. Last year, the firm changed from two semi-annual seminars to one concentrated annual seminar supplemented by several one-hour webinars throughout the year on both timely topics and frequently-asked-about issues, which have been very well received and drawn large online audiences. McAfee & Taft also continues to expand the information and resources it offers employers and HR professionals by growing its EmployerLINC website and law blog, with more frequent posts about the latest news, commentary and analysis of current employment law and employee benefits issues.