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 employee classification.

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 said.

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.

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