Photo of Suzanne M. Boy

Suzanne Boy is passionate about assisting her business clients with all aspects of employment law and HR-related issues. She regularly assists her clients with employee handbooks; wage/hour audits; supervisory training; and employee termination, leave, and disciplinary issues, and she strives to help clients proactively and cost-effectively resolve workplace issues. When litigation cannot be avoided, Suzanne represents her clients in employment litigation, including Title VII, ADEA, ADA, FLSA, FMLA, whistleblower statutes, and all types of retaliation. She frequently speaks to businesses and professional groups on various employment matters, and serves as the lead writer of the firm’s employment law blog.

Suzanne has been recognized for her professional achievements and for her community involvement. In 2014, she was named one of Gulfshore Business Magazine’s Forty Under 40. Suzanne has also been named to the Business Observer’s 40 Under 40. For six consecutive years, she has been recognized by Florida Super Lawyers magazine as a “Rising Star.” She is very involved in the community, and currently serves on several boards and committees, including SHRM SWFL, Canterbury School, Florida Bar Grievance Committee, Women in Business, and Leadership NEXT.

If you are like me, you have been focused on all things weather-related the last day or two. In Southwest Florida, we are firmly stuck in the “cone of uncertainty” in the path of Hurricane Irma, a storm the weather-folks keep calling “potentially catastrophic.”  There were even rumors of a Jim Cantore sighting in Fort Myers yesterday…and anyone who has lived in Florida for a hurricane season or two knows what that means!

I know many of you are working on storm preparations, which, with a storm of this magnitude, naturally means you are faced with potential workplace closures. If the number of questions I received yesterday is any indication, there is a lot of uncertainty about when and how to pay employees if your business closes before and/or after the storm.

Impact of Workplace Closure on Payroll

Continue Reading Cone of Uncertainty: Wage/Hour Concerns in the Path of Hurricane Irma

Can you believe it’s been two months since we hosted the 25th Anniversary HR Law & Solutions seminar? Where does the time go?! Thank you so much to the nearly 400 people who attended – it was a record-breaking day! As usual, our Henderson Franklin team had a blast getting to catch up with so many familiar faces at what truly feels like a big family reunion. We loved seeing many new faces as well!

HR Law Room

We had a full day of speakers on various legal topics, a delicious lunch, and great networking opportunities. At the end of the day, we had a celebration for our 25th Anniversary that included cocktails and an AMAZING cupcake tower from our favorite chocolatier Norman Love Confections.

HR Law Cupcakes

Additionally, we inducted Nathalie Galvan, Lucille Ford (not pictured), Cindy Kelberer, Judy Marcucci, and Joanne Lashey in our HR Law & Solutions Hall of Fame (see photo, below). Additional photos from the day can be found on Henderson Franklin’s Facebook page.

HR Law HOF

Special thanks goes to our amazing major sponsors, Lykes Insurance and Gravity Benefits. Our seminar would not be the same without our long-standing partnership with Lunch Sponsor Lykes, and we were proud to welcome Gravity back for the second time, this year as our 25th Anniversary Celebration Sponsor. We look forward to partnering with both groups for years to come.

I also want thank EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Weisberg and plaintiff’s attorney Ben Yormak for braving the HR/employer-filled crowd to offer great advice and tips for employers to avoid ending up on the wrong side of a lawsuit! Kudos to the crowd for not peppering these “bad” guys with anything but great questions (I warned them to watch out for flying food!). Over the next several weeks here on the blog, I will be answering some of the pre-submitted questions we were not able to address on the panel. As always, if you have additional questions you’d like me to tackle in a blog post, feel free to reach out to me at any time.

On behalf of our entire employment law team, thank you all so much for making our 25th Anniversary so wonderful. It truly is such an incredible day, and one we all look forward to every year.  We couldn’t do it without your support year after year.  Now, here’s to the next 25!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked in the last few weeks:  is there any chance the new overtime rule will go away or at least be postponed to sometime after December 1?  Well, apparently the answer is…

YES!  Yes.  Yes.  The answer — much to my surprise — is YES, the overtime change is NOT happening December 1.

A federal court in Texas just entered a nationwide injunction, enjoining the Department of Labor’s Final Rule, which was set to make sweeping changes to the white collar exemptions beginning December 1.  Yes, nationwide.  Injunction.  December 1 change, done.  Gone.  If you want to read the opinion, click Nevada v DOL Injunction.

So what does this mean for employers?  For employees?  It means there is no change happening December 1.  For now, the salary level remains at $455/week, or $23,660/year.  Will it happen someday?  Who knows.  The likelihood of it happening under a Republican White House, Senate, and House is, in my opinion, quite slim (at least in its current form).  Once we have had a chance to digest the decision and its effects, we will be back with more information.

I’m not sure what to say right now other than WOW.

Last week, the Defense of Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) was signed into law. The DTSA creates a federal legal scheme for the protection of trade secrets. Previously, protection of this form of intellectual property was solely a matter of state law, unlike patent, trademark and copyright, which have always been matters of federal law. The DTSA has a number of unique provisions, one of which immediately impacts employers who use confidentiality agreements with their employees. My colleague Mark Nieds and I offer the following summary of this new law.

Whistleblower Protection

Due to concerns over the impact that confidentiality agreements might have on employees who might otherwise report their employer’s wrongdoing to the government, an amendment was tacked on to the DTSA to provide civil and criminal immunity to whistleblowers under state and federal law for disclosing confidential or trade secret information to the government as part of whistleblowing activity.

Continue Reading Why Employers Need to Review Employment and Confidentiality Agreements in Light of the Newly-Enacted Defense of Trade Secrets Act

The moment we have all been waiting for (dreading?) has arrived — the Department of Labor issued its “Overtime” Final Rule.  The details are available on the DOL’s website, with the “official” Final Rule to be published in the Federal Regulations tomorrow.

As anyone who follows HR or employment law knows, this Final Rule has been highly anticipated — not to mention hotly debated — due to what is essentially a complete overhaul of the salary basis portion of executive, administrative, and professional overtime exemptions.  We now know:

  • The new minimum salary basis is $913/week or $47,476/annually.
  • The highly compensated employee salary basis jumps to $134,004/annually.
  • The salary basis will be “automatically” updated every three years, beginning January 1, 2020.
  • Employers may now use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments, including commissions, to satisfy up to 10 percent of the salary basis.
  • Perhaps most importantly, the effective date of the Final Rule is December 1, 2016.

To me, what stands out the most is the effective date — it gives employers much more time to adopt the new regulations than most people anticipated (some suspected it would be as few as 30 days).  So, that’s good news for the thousands of employers who will be impacted by these changes.  Also notable? The DOL did not make any changes to the duties test for any of the exemptions.

Once we have a chance to fully digest the Final Rule, we will be back with additional updates.   In the meantime, check out the DOL’s Questions and Answers section and Fact Sheet for additional information.  You can also comment on this post or email me directly if you have questions.  Stay tuned!

12472462_1068263593215300_3007634210112393767_nLast week we hosted the 24th Annual HR Law & Solutions seminar. THANK YOU to the 340 attendees (record attendance!) who helped us make it such a great success! As usual, our Henderson Franklin crew had a blast getting to catch up with so many familiar faces, and we were excited to welcome many new faces in the crowd as well.

In addition to a full morning of education on various employment law topics, we featured two fantastic guest speakers, Jennifer Shirkani and Ethan Wall. We also inducted Laura Boyette, Marty Bryson, Marianne Davis, Carol Docker (pictured above) and Tracey DiBiase (pictured below) into the HR Law & Solutions Hall of Fame. Additional photos from the day can be found on Henderson Franklin’s Facebook page. 12670625_1068263719881954_4434719861077534437_n

Special thanks goes to our amazing major sponsors, Lykes Insurance and Gravity Benefits. Our seminar would not be the same without our long-standing partnership with lunch sponsor Lykes, and Gravity was a fantastic addition as this year’s breakfast sponsor. We look forward to partnering with both groups for years to come.

Speaking of years to come, next year is huge – it is our 25th Anniversary! Planning is already underway for what we hope proves to be our biggest and best seminar yet! This is where you come in – we would like your feedback on how we can achieve this goal. First up? Choosing the date. Historically, we’ve done the seminar on Tuesdays. This year, it was Monday. In the seminar evaluations, a few people suggested that Friday would be the best day (we really do read every single evaluation!).  What say you, readers?

Once we have shored up a date and location, we will be asking for your feedback on topics you would like to hear, and what format(s) you prefer. What better way for us to ensure the 25th Annual HR Law & Solutions is the best ever, but to give you, our faithful attendees (and future attendees!) what you want?

Thank you all in advance for your feedback. If you have additional thoughts, please know we are always interested in hearing them!

On behalf of the entire employment law team at Henderson Franklin, I want to send a final heartfelt thanks to our attendees and sponsors for making last week’s seminar so amazing. It really is like a reunion to us, and although there is an incredible amount of work that goes into it (especially from Gail Lamarche!), it is absolute one of the highlights of each year for us.

See you in 2017!

11084136_870847629623565_1393615644063915399_o

We are so excited to announce that registration is now open for the 2016 HR Law & Solutions Seminar. Now in its 24th year, this full-day seminar is a fantastic opportunity for both new and experience HR professionals and other business executives to learn about important employment laws, network with their peers, and, of course, have a little fun! This year, we return to the gorgeous Sanibel Harbour Resort and Spa on, Monday, April 4, 2016. Topics and speakers include:

  • Legislative and Case Law Update. Attorneys Robert Shearman and Vicki Sproat will provide an interactive update on notable court decisions, including cases addressing contentious employment policies and contract provisions, and other noteworthy employee claims.
  • The Intersection of Immigration and Employment Law: What You Need to Know and Probably Don’t. Immigration law is a hot button topic in our country’s current political landscape, particularly since this is an election year. For many HR professionals, the relevancy of immigration law is limited to I-9 forms and E-Verify. Attorney Tulio Suarez will give attendees insight on key immigration-related HR issues potentially faced by all employers.
  • Breakout Sessions. Henderson Franklin’s employment law, immigration, and workers’ compensation attorneys will break out in smaller groups to facilitate discussions and give attendees an opportunity to gain more information on specific topics of interest to them and answer any legal questions on any aspect of laws and issues impacting their workplace. More specifically:
    • Welcome to the Company, Please Sign Here. In such a litigious climate, it is more important than ever for employers to have their workplace documentation in order from the start of the employment relationship. Attorneys John Agnew and Suzanne Boy will give HR professionals, business owners, and managers guidance on how to prepare and implement solid employment policies and contracts.
    • You’re From the Government, and We’re Here to Help. Claims against government or other public sector employers often present special challenges. Attorneys John Potanovic and Bob Shearman will delve into the framework of, and best practices in dealing with, Florida Public Sector Whistleblower claims and Constitutional claims.
    • Tips to Recognize, Reduce, and Deal with Workers’ Compensation Fraud in the Workplace. For many HR professionals, employers, agents, attorneys and adjusters, fraud in the workers’ compensation system is often frustrating and confusing. Attorneys David Roos, Michael McCabe and Tania Ogden will give attendees insights on key issues and strategies to recognize and identify insurance fraud at the time of hire, after a reported work accident, during the course of providing benefits and how to best deal with the situation.
  • Ego vs. EQ: How Top Business Leaders Beat Eight Ego Traps with Emotional Intelligence. Somewhere along the line, while climbing the corporate ladder or growing their own company, highly-technical strong employees can struggle with maintaining a healthy level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) that keeps them connected to their workforce and grounded in the day-to-day realities of their business. The risk of falling into “ego traps” increases, hurting the business and threatening their hard-won success. In this session guest speaker Jennifer Shirkani will help attendees discover ways to be an inspirational and emotionally-engaging leader.
  • Lawful and Unlawful Use of Social Media for Hiring and Retention. Researching applicants for employment is common place in today’s online environment. If your company searches prospective candidates on social media without appropriate guidelines to ensure compliance with state and federal laws, you may be subject to lawsuits for discrimination. Social Media Attorney Ethan Wall will educate attendees on the laws that govern the use of social media for hiring and retention.

Continuing Education

This conference has been approved by SHRM for 5.25 PDCs and by HRCI for 5.25 Recertification Credit Hours (General).

Conference Partners

We are grateful for the support and sponsorship of Lykes Insurance (lunch sponsor), Charlotte County SHRM, SHRM SWFL, and HR Collier.

Overnight Accommodations

Since the seminar is on Monday this year, we have reserved a block of rooms at Sanibel Harbour for $189/night. To make hotel reservations, click here. Reservations must be made by March 3 to take advantage of the group rate.

Seminar Registration

Registration is $40 per person and includes a continental breakfast, plated lunch, seminar materials and valet parking. Click here to download the brochure. Click here to register.

If you have any questions, please let us know. We look forward to seeing you all on April 4!

SHRM-SWFL-ver1-finalI am very excited to announce that Elaine McArthur, the Outreach and Training Manager for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), is speaking at the SHRM SWFL luncheon next week. This is an excellent opportunity for HR professionals, supervisors, and/or business owners to learn straight from the EEOC – the agency charged with enforcing workplace discrimination and harassment laws. Ms. McArthur will provide attendees with important updates on recent development and guidance from the EEOC, and will be available to answer questions from the audience.

The meeting is Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at Crowne Plaza Bell Tower. Registration begins at 11:00. $21.00 for SHRM SWFL members, $25.00 for non-member. Click here to register: https://shrmswfl.wildapricot.org/event-2023961. I hope to see you there!

I am very excited to announce that Paul Dean, a local investigator with the Department of Labor (DOL), will speak at next week’s SHRM SWFL meeting about various wage/hour issues. No, I am not excited because my favorite group of HR professionals plans to throw food at Paul (if you’re reading this, Paul, I promise we won’t do that!). I am excited because this is an excellent opportunity for employers to learn straight from the DOL – the agency charged with enforcing the ever-changing and ever-dangerous wage/hour laws. Paul will address important issues that impact nearly all businesses, including exemptions from overtime, record-keeping requirements, deductions, and tip credit issues.

The meeting is Wednesday, August 12, 2015 at Crowne Plaza Bell Tower. Registration begins at 11:00. $21.00 for SHRM SWFL members, $25.00 for non-member. Click here to register: http://hrmaswfl.shrm.org/events. I hope to see you there!

Image courtesy of wikimedia commons

IMG_3428We want to send a special THANK YOU to the more than 300 of you who attended HR Law & Solutions last week. It is always such a pleasure for all of us – it feels like an annual reunion! Congratulations to all of our raffle winners, and especially to our new HR Law & Solutions Hall of Fame recipients (pictured left to right): Patti Reigle (of Digestive Health Physicians), Fran Barker (of Physicians’ Primary Care), and Kim Hopkins (of McGregor Baptist Church.

As I mentioned during our What Would You Do? session, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) recently issued a report on employer handbook policies. It is…interesting, to say the least. The report gives examples of (supposedly) lawful and unlawful handbook policies on issues like confidentiality, conduct toward supervisors and fellow employees, conflicts of interest, and employees leaving work. Generally, “lawful” vs. “unlawful” turns on whether the NLRB thinks the particular policy infringes upon employees’ Section 7 right to engage in concerted activity regarding terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

Continue Reading Seminar Wrap-Up and NLRB Report on Handbook Policies