Wrap Up of SHRM Atlanta Conference: Part 2

In this second part of my wrap of the SHRM Atlanta Conference I am going to comment on some of the sessions I attended. I had the responsibility of following and tweeting on the Law and Legislation track. On the first day I attended these sessions:

  1. Developing and Maintaining A Great Employee Handbook, presented by Jennifer Sandberg of Fisher & Phillips LLP. I have been doing handbooks for a long time, yet I was able to learn some things from Jennifer’s presentation. She pointed out that your handbook should not only reflect your brand it should reinforce it. It is an indication of how important you consider that new employee, thus you should make it attractive and readable. She said you should set the expectation that it is something you want the employee to keep. Thus it needs to be tailored to your company. At the same time the handbook should not try to solve every problem or address every issue. Properly crafted the handbook can be a flexible document that can protect the company while informing the employee.
  2. Georgia’s New Restrictive Covenant Act: What Employers Need to Know presented by Todd Wozniak and Brett Lane, both of Greenberg Traurig LLP. The Georgia law has changed substantially in the past couple of years to be more favorable to employers. It allows for alteration of restrictive covenants now. These gentlemen made the distinction between the various type of covenants. The prime ones are nondisclosure, customer nonsolicitation and noncompetes. They pointed out that it is not necessary to have all three for all employees. They do feel all employees should sign nondisclosures, as all employees have access to information about the company. But nonsolicitation and noncompetes should be used more sparingly depending on the level of the employee involved. Todd recommended a “bucket approach” of three buckets of nondisclosure, customer nonsolicitation and noncompetes. Decide which bucket is appropriate for which level of employee.
  3. Information Privacy and Security- Working Remotely, Social Networking, Employee Monitoring and How to Avoid or Manage the Lawsuit That’s Coming  presented by David Long-Daniels and Peter Hall, both of GreenbergTraurig LLP. First, David may be in the wrong profession. I don’t mean that in a negative way, he is undoubtedly a very fine attorney, but with mellifluous baritone voice he should be doing voice overs for TV specials. The message that these attorneys gave us is that this is a big scary world and we are going to stumble over different parts. I need to reread their notes, but one interesting issue they pointed out was that a privacy violation may occur in your efforts to be a conscientous employee. If you email files to your home computer in an effort to be able to work at home you may be in violation of various confidentialy or privacy provisions of various laws, such as HIPAA.
  4. How Would This Look in Court? presented by Tillman Coffey of Fisher & Phillips LLP. Tillman had the uneviable position of having the final session of the day, often a difficult time to hold attendees attention. To his credit he did a superb job. Through a series of video  vignettes he should us a situation that no HR manager in their right mind would ever want to be in. He should an HR manager conducting, poorly I might add, a sexual harassment investigation, followed by that HR manager being deposed by a plaintiff’s attorney.  In that process the lessons of documentation, thoroughness and consistency were reinforced.

That ended the track for the day and I left much more informed than I had when I started the day. I was looking forward to the next day, and that is what I will talk about in the next blog post.

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