Municipal HR: Managing to Avoid Risk

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3-Session Premier Course

Various factors have converged to increase the frequency of lawsuits against New Jersey municipalities alleging discrimination, harassment and whistleblowing violations. Changes in the law have lowered barriers to litigation, as employees, with or without their unions, have become emboldened to take a chance and sue their employers for a monetary award. Some even use social media to champion their cause. And, of course, as public employees, municipal workers - from police officers to DPW workers – enjoy additional constitutional protections. All of this adds up to municipalities being targets for lawsuits by aggrieved and disgruntled employees.

Now more than ever, municipal Human Resources administrators must manage employment liability risks, providing assistance and guidance to departments and personnel. To manage these risks competently, employment decisions must be informed with a thorough analysis of downside risks and legal exposure.

This three-session course provides a comprehensive, hands-on understanding of essential legal issues necessary to manage an increasingly risk-based workplace.

Session 1 - Applying Equal Employment Opportunity Law and Preserving a Legal Defense

December 3, 2019 (Tuesday)

Over the past decade, thousands of charges of job discrimination have been filed against municipalities. While the majority allege discrimination, harassment and retaliation based on race, many others allege sex, age, disability and national origin discrimination. One in four employers a year is a target for such a charge. This unique session will not only review and evaluate relevant case law under federal and state discrimination statutes but will also present an in-depth look into a discrimination charge, emphasizing the ways employers may preserve evidence and prepare a defense. The session will also explore the best practices and policies that have been proven to reduce the threat of discrimination charges.

  • Overview of Federal and State Discrimination Statutes
  • Workplace Harassment – Gender and other
  • Reasonable Accommodations and Medical Documentation
  • Document Retention and Preservation of Evidence
  • Preserving a Defense - Aguas v. State of New Jersey (2014)
  • Avoiding Retaliation

Session 2 - Managing incidents of Whistleblowing and Retaliation

December 10, 2019 (Tuesday)

You have heard about them. You have read about them. Indeed, Time Magazine has celebrated them as Persons-of-the-Year. They are whistleblowers and they play an important role in exposing municipal misconduct. New Jersey has the toughest whistleblower law in the nation – the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) - but not every gripe or ethical dispute constitutes “whistleblowing”. And, unfortunately, employees often try to protect their status by falsely donning the mantle of the whistleblower. To avoid the whistleblowing traps, it is important to understand the nature of whistleblowing and to have proactive policies and practices in place.

  • What Type of Conduct Does the Law Protect
  • Evaluating Potential Whistleblower Charges
  • What is Retaliation -- The Difference Between Legitimate Discipline and Retaliation
  • What Kind of Policy is Required
  • When to Get Your Lawyer Involved

Session 3 - How to Conduct an Internal Investigation

December 16, 2019 (Monday)

Responding to allegations of misconduct must be approached with care and consideration. An investigators job is to conduct a comprehensive, objective and professional investigation that allows for a credible determination to be made about what happened and whether a violation, legal or otherwise, has occurred.

  • Who should conduct the investigation
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Confidentiality considerations
  • Preserving documents and evidence
  • Communicating with both parties
  • Whether to trigger the attorney-client privilege
  • Legal protection for the accuser and accused

Instructors

Andree

Andree P. Laney, Esq.

JJS

John J. Sarno, Esq.

Dates

Session 1 - Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Session 2 - Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Session 3 - Monday, December 16, 2019

Each session is three-hours, 9 am to noon.

Location

Garden State Municipal Joint Insurance Fund
Training Room
900 Route 9 North
Woodbridge, NJ 07095

Cost

$750 per person

HRCI credits offered.