CHARLESTON – The annual SuperVision Symposium held July 1 brought more than 50 business and human resources professionals together in West Virginia to discuss the latest issues in workplace laws and conduct.
The symposium, presented by corporate defense firm Spilman
Thomas and Battle, included panels and discussions on everything from data
security to employee leave to religious discrimination and accommodation. Panels included both lawyers and human resources professionals to “provide
practical advice,” according to Spilman’s Labor and Employment Practice Group
Chair Eric Iskra.
There were approximately 70 attendees representing businesses of all
sizes from mom and pops to Fortune 10 companies, Iskra told the West Virginia Record.
“The overall goal is to educate businesses and primarily
human resources professionals about the current landscape on labor and
employment issues, and any recent significant changes that they need to be
aware of,” Iskra said.
This year, one of those significant changes involved
Department of Labor regulations for overtime pay and hourly versus salaried
In May, the Department of Labor updated salary and compensation levels needed for employees to be exempt from
overtime pay, ultimately extending overtime pay protections to more than 4 million Americans within the first year, according to the agency.
These new rules will go into effect at the end of 2016 and
will have a “significant impact” on how and when employers pay their employees,
Iskra said. Therefore, he added, “(a) big takeaway was to make sure folks are
taking a hard look at their job descriptions and what employees do for their
non-exempt workforce, to make sure they are truly non-exempt.”
Another “very hot” issue was employees’ off-duty online and
social media conduct. Iskra said that the symposium covered when employers can
and should take action regarding employee’s online behavior that could
negatively impact the workplace.
“For instance, Facebook postings that may be done off duty…
that somehow could have an impact on work-related issues,” he elaborated.
“There are certain prohibitions for employers taking action and there are times
when employers should take action.”
Sexual orientation, gender identity and religious
discrimination were also major topics for the symposium, according to Iskra. For
example, he said, panels covered how to adequately accommodate transgender
employees who are transitioning or employees who need alternative schedules for
their religious practices.
“The take-aways for all these folks is: here’s where the law
is; and we’re trying to help folks navigate and govern their workforce,” he
A new audience participation feature was added to
SuperVision this year, with attendees able to participate
in live polling via their smart phones.
“We use that to educate them even more about what the issues
are,” he said.
The SuperVision Symposium was launched nine years ago by Spilman’s
labor and employment group, according to the firm.
The event is free to attend and offered in various locations
throughout the mid-Atlantic every year.