Annual seminar offers employers real-world examples of costly, common mistakes


McAfee & Taft attorneys presented 11 sessions to room-capacity audiences at two venues during the firm’s annual labor, employment and employee benefits seminar, EmployerLINC15. Hundreds of business owners, executives, human resources professionals and benefits managers attended the all-day events at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center in Tulsa on April 28 and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City on April 30, 2015.

McAfee & Taft employment attorney Courtney Bru presents during one of the morning sessions.

During a morning session at the seminar, McAfee & Taft employment attorney Courtney Bru discusses the consequences of failing to understand the concept of pretext.

This year’s theme, “Case studies in costly mistakes,” built upon legal information presented in previous seminars, webinars, alerts and articles to provide real-life examples of how even the most common mistakes can have very costly consequences — whether its in the form of a lawsuit, financial penalty, audit or formal investigation.

The morning session featured five presentations by McAfee & Taft’s Labor and Employment Group covering five common employer mistakes and how they played out in the courtroom. Those mistakes included failure to maintain accurate job descriptions, failure to properly structure severance agreements, failure to understand the nuances of non-competition and non-solicitation agreements, failure to understand the concept of pretext, and failure to adequately train the workforce. Featured presenters during the morning session included attorneys Tony PuckettElizabeth Bowersox, Roberta Fields, Kathy NealNathan Whatley, Sam FulkersonPhil Bruce, Courtney BruCharlie PlumbPaul Ross and Josh Solberg.

McAfee & Taft employee benefits attorney Bill Freudenrich talks about Department of Labor audits of employer-sponsored health care plans.

During an afternoon session of the seminar, McAfee & Taft employee benefits attorney Bill Freudenrich talks about Department of Labor audits of benefit plans.

The afternoon session featured six presentations by McAfee & Taft’s Employee Benefits Group focusing on the latest “must-know” guidance concerning health care reform as well as company-sponsored qualified retirement, health and welfare, and executive compensation plans. Topics included executive compensation: opportunities and pitfalls; Department of Labor benefit plan audits; preparing for the cadillac tax and frequently asked questions about the Affordable Care Act; retirement plans fiduciary duties and why the industry is talking about fee leveling; and retirement plan restatements and common mistakes.  Featured presenters during the afternoon session included attorneys Jennifer CallahanBarbara Klepper, Bill FreudenrichBrandon LongJohn PapahronisJim Prince and David Spring.

McAfee & Taft is one of the nation’s 250 largest law firms as ranked by the National Law Journal and serves clients locally, nationally and internationally in the areas of aviation, business law, corporate and securities, employee benefits, entertainment law, environmental law, healthcare, intellectual property, labor and employment, litigation, oil and gas, real estate and tax and family wealth. The firm employs nearly 350 Oklahomans, including 175 attorneys, and has offices in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

(Photos by Jeremy Handeland)