2017 DMEC FMLA/ADA Employer
Compliance Conference

2017-dmec-fmla-ada-employer-compliance-conferenceSession and Speaker Agenda

The 2017 DMEC FMLA/ADA Employer Compliance Conference is a must-attend event for compliance professionals. During 2 1/2 jam-packed days, hear from expert speakers addressing your top FMLA and ADA concerns. Gather the insight and tools you need to run effective and compliant leave programs.

Download the final program or browse the online agenda below.

Monday | May 1

7:00 am-5:00 pm Registration Open
Preconference Workshop
8:30-11:30 am The Nuts & Bolts of the FMLA and ADA 
FMLA Administration: Don’t Be Caught Unprepared
If you think that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a challenge, you are not alone. DMEC’s 2016 Leave Management Survey confirms what we all know: even though the FMLA has been around since 1993, most employers have significant difficulty implementing its requirements.Don’t be caught unprepared. Your organization could end up in a tangled legal web if you’re not familiar with the intricacies of the FMLA. With every new court case, the FMLA becomes better defined…and sometimes more confusing.Don’t just assume that you’re doing it right or that you know enough to get by.During this session, you will gain a better understanding of the fundamentals and requirements of FMLA, learn to eliminate FMLA confusion, understand what documentation is necessary to qualify as an FMLA event, and explore real-life situations.

We will also help employers better understand and administer the FMLA by:

  • Providing an in-depth overview of the FMLA and its regulations
  • Identifying common misconceptions and mistakes made when administering the FMLA
  • Providing employers with a structured approach to address FMLA compliance

ADA Basics and Moving Beyond Compliance
Savvy employers understand the value of hiring and retaining qualified employees with disabilities. For those employers, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can serve as a tool to help attract employees with disabilities. In addition, many employers are going beyond mere compliance and are looking for ways to make their workplaces more inclusive for all.

During this session, you will come away with an understanding of the basic requirements of the ADA and receive practical tips for compliance. Representatives from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) will share information about the financial and legal benefits of ADA compliance and provide tools for promoting an inclusive workplace. This session will cover:

  • The basic requirements of the ADA
  • The benefits and costs of providing reasonable accommodations
  • A review of a model process for promoting successful accommodation outcomes
  • Tips for avoiding retaliation under the ADA
  • A review of an online toolkit with tips and resources for going beyond basic compliance with the ADA

David Mohl, JD, Associate Counsel, Global Labor & Employment, Chief Privacy Officer, The Hershey Company

Linda Batiste, JD, Principal Consultant, Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

Louis E. Orslene, MSW, MPIA, CPDM, Co-Director, Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

11:30 am-1:00 pm Welcome Luncheon 
Sponsored by:

Franczek Radelet
General Session
1:00-1:30 pm Welcome & Opening Remarks 
The United States is at a crossroads in considering whether and how the nation can ensure working people have access to paid family and medical leave and access to paid sick days. The drumbeat for change — both through private sector initiatives and public policy developments — is unmistakable. There is a growing, common understanding that current policies and practices are not meeting working families’ needs, an emerging sense that national level public policies are needed to fill the void, and an evolving and powerful body of evidence that paid leave works well where laws are in place. To kick off the conference, we’ll provide a snapshot of recent developments and a framework for considering the proposals that lawmakers have put forward. We will touch on evidence that dispels myths about paid leave and shows that paid leave programs benefit America’s employers, their workers and families, and the overall economy. And we’ll address the reputational and talent attraction benefits employers can realize from adopting family-forward policies.

Terri Rhodes, MBA, CPDM, CCMP, Chief Executive Officer, DMECAnna Steffeney, CEO, LeaveLogicInvited Speaker
Opening Remarks by Vicki Shabo, JD, MA, Vice President, National Partnership for Women & Families
1:30-2:30 pm So Now What? The Post-Election Future of Absence Management 
A rollercoaster election season. A massive shift in the country’s government. Are you tearing your hair out wondering what it will mean for your organization and programs? Will the Affordable Care Act be repealed? Will parental leave get federal consideration? We’ll wade through the confusion and bring you up-to-the-minute changes and predictions for 2017, including the impact on paid family leave at both state and federal levels, potential deregulations and what they mean, the impact of state municipal elections on paid sick leave mandates, and the future of the ACA and how it affects absence management.

Kevin Curry, National Practice Leader, Senior Vice President, ReedGroup
2:30-3:00 pm Dessert with Exhibitors  
Sponsored by:

Morgan Brown & Joy, LLP
3:00-4:00 pm FMLA: A Year in Review 
As creative employees submit new claims and anxious employers test the waters with new defenses, it’s important to understand recent case law and its impact on employment practices across the country. In this popular session, we’ll review recent major FMLA case law developments, identify emerging case law trends, and discuss recurring issues that continue to get the court’s attention. You’ll also gather tips and tactics that will keep your organization out of next year’s FMLA update.

Marti Cardi, JD, Vice President, Product Compliance, Matrix Absence Management, IncJeff Nowak, JD, Co-Chair Labor and Employment Practice, Franczek Radelet
4:00-5:00 pm ADA: A Year in Review 

The ADA is not only a challenging law to comply with; it’s also one that changes rapidly. Given that so much of the law is vague or subjective, it’s imperative to keep up with new developments, especially new court cases that interpret the law.

In this informative session, Matt Morris, VP of FMLASource as well as Richard Mrizek of the EEOC will walk you through the recent developments most important to your organization’s ability to comply with the ADA. This session will cover:

  • New EEOC resource documents published
  • Recent court cases and other relevant ADA news
  • Actionable steps to ensure your organization’s ADA policy is compliant

Richard Mrizek, JD, Trial Attorney, EEOC

Matt Morriss, JD, VP of FMLASource, ComPsych

Evening Event
5:00-6:30 pm Opening Networking Reception 
Mix and mingle with colleagues and peers from across the country at the 2017 opening networking reception.

Sponsored by:
Our Partner Sponsors


Tuesday | May 2

7:00 am-1:00 pm Registration Open
7:00-8:00 am Networking Breakfast 
Sponsored by

General Session
8:00-9:00 am FMLA Compliance: Do You Have 2020 Vision? 
Driverless cars, robots, drone delivery … the world is evolving so fast that it likely will be a very different place in just three short years. But how will our FMLA compliance systems change and what can we do to help facilitate better, faster and more legally compliant leave decisions? In this session, two seasoned absence management attorneys will share their insights into the major changes companies are likely to experience between now and the year 2020. Among other things, they will discuss the forces at work in companies that are shaping the structure, delivery and goals of today’s absence management systems. They also will highlight what they see as the fault lines of current FMLA compliance systems and the opportunities employers have for improving those systems. Mr. Alvarez and Ms. Giger will take questions throughout the session to share their insider’s view of what makes in-house legal both smile and cringe.

Francis P. Alvarez, Esq, Principal and Leader of Disability, Leave & Health Management Practice, Jackson Lewis, PC
Sheri Giger, JD, MS, Principal, Jackson Lewis, PC
9:00-9:30 am Coffee & Conversation Break 
Sponsored by:

9:30-10:30 am What is Illegal Interference Under the ADA and FMLA? 
Courts sometimes find an employer’s conduct unlawfully “interfered with” rights under the FMLA. The ADA provides similar protection against interference. Both laws prohibit an employer from “coercing, threatening, intimidating, or interfering” with an employee’s rights; but what exactly does this mean? Can the misinterpretation of a medical certification form amount to illegal FMLA “interference”? How about telling the employee to take their medication as the doctor indicates — is that unlawful under the ADA? Courts, the DOL, and now even the EEOC in its recently issued “Guidance on Retaliation” are continually describing this unlawful conduct. Attend this interactive session and learn through example what this prohibited conduct looks like, and how to avoid it.

Jaclyn Kugell, JD, Partner, Morgan, Brown & Joy, LLP
10:30-11:30 am Why Did Employers Win so Many FMLA/ADA Cases in 2016? 
Many of the federal court decisions in 2016 involving ADA and FMLA claims were decided favorably for employers. During this session, we will review common elements of these cases in order to provide the “secret sauce” that results in employer-friendly rulings. Learn how to reduce your risk of liability based on some common themes from these decisions.

Marjory Robertson, JD, AVP & Senior Counsel, Sun Life Financial
11:30 am-1:00 pm Networking Luncheon 
Sponsored by:

CareWorks Absence Management
Concurrent Sessions
1:00-2:30 pm 1A. Strategies to Combat the Friday, Monday Leave Act 
Employers struggle with how to manage excessive use and abuse of leave. The “forever intermittent leave” users are impacting profits, customer service, and relationships between employees. FMLA is a necessary and important leave law that must be managed to protect employee rights and your companies’ bottom line. This session will show you how to strike that balance between supporting necessary and appropriate leaves and challenging excessive or misuse of leave. In this fast-paced and solutions-oriented session, Rachel Shaw will expertly walk you through what you CAN do to address these issues. Plan to leave with tools that you can implement immediately, and a new-found confidence in how to tackle this very complex and frustrating issue.

Rachel A. Shaw, MBA, President, Shaw HR Consulting, Inc
1B. The New Frontier: Paid Sick Leave Laws 2.0 
Currently, five states, 29 cities, two counties, and Washington, D.C. have some form of a paid sick leave law. No doubt more are to come. Since paid leave laws typically offer job protected absences and/or layer on top of other job protected leave, these laws present a host of administrative issues. Add to it that the laws themselves often differ in, for example, amounts of leave, thresholds to access leave, reasons for leave, rules for carry over, etc., and multi-state employers are left with an even more difficult task of attempting to lawfully implement employee leave entitlements. Attend this lively session and attempt to make sense of this tangled web of new laws.

Jackyn Kugell, JD, Partner, Morgan, Brown, & Joy, LLP
1C. Going Above & Beyond: Exceeding ADA Requirements without Getting Burned 
Employers often want to adopt practical approaches to accommodating injured or ill employees — to do what they think makes common sense for the employee and business even if it is not legally required. Such benevolent thoughts can be fleeting, however, as fears of setting difficult precedents and redefining the baseline for ADA obligations frequently smothers support for such initiatives. In this session, we will examine the circumstances that most frequently entice employers to go “above and beyond” and discuss strategies and case law that can help position your company to manage its employees and business the way you deem fit while avoiding “no good going unpunished.”

Francis P. Alvarez, Esq, Principal and Leader of Disability, Leave & Health Management Practice, Jackson Lewis, PC


1D. What Would You Do? Practical Solutions for your Accommodation Challenges 
What would you do if an employee on leave as an ADA accommodation asked for a fourth extension? Or, how would you respond if an employee on performance counseling revealed a disability? When an employee raises an ADA accommodation issue, you need to be able to think on your feet and react appropriately. This session will ask participants what they would do in response to various ADA accommodation scenarios and provide best practice tips and strategies for how employers should respond. We will use cell phone polling technology to survey session participants on each scenario presented. Sufficient time will be left at the end of the session for employers to pose their own “what if” questions.

Linda Batiste, JD, Principal Consultant, Job Accommodation Network (JAN)Allyson Kambach, FLMI, NAADAC Professional Associate, Director, Disability and Absence Product Management, The Prudential Insurance Company of America
2:30-3:00 pm Dessert with Exhibitors  
Sponsored by:

Morgan Brown & Joy, LLP
3:00-4:00 pm 2A. ADA and FMLA: How to Successfully Manage them In-House 
Administering ADA and FMLA programs can be a tricky process to navigate. Despite this, more companies today are insourcing these programs, recognizing the cost and service outcome benefits to employees. Meijer has maintained insourced ADA and FMLA programs since the inception of both Acts. During this session, we will share the keys to our program’s success, including how to maintain pro-employer, sound policies; what training is most beneficial for your HR and leadership teams; combating perceived abuse; administering leave in a consistent fashion; and tips on returning your employees to work earlier and reducing absenteeism.

Dorrie Tompsett, ADA Specialist, Mental Health First Aid Certified, MeijerKimberly Carr, JD, SHRM-SCP, Senior Director, Disability Management Services, Mental Health First Aid Certified, Meijer
2B. When Your Workforce is Expecting — Pregnancy Considerations Under ADA/FMLA 

Pregnancy can be an exciting time for an employee, but it can be exceedingly complex for an employer navigating ADA and FMLA compliance. Balancing business needs and employee support can be challenging especially if complications occur and accommodations are needed.

This session will review:

  • How the ADA and FMLA laws apply to pregnancy
  • EEOC guidance on pregnancy, including a review of employer obligations under the ADA and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act
  • State developments, particularly when employers must accommodate pregnant employees even if the situation does not rise to the level of disability and applicable case law

Finally, best practices for supporting stay at work and light duty accommodations will be reviewed.

Michelle Jackson, MSW, Assistant Vice President, Unum

Ellen Donovan McCann, JD, Assistant Vice President and Special Counsel, Unum

2C. IDM: Understanding the Interactions of FMLA, ADA, and WC Laws 
This session will focus on the often complex way FMLA, ADA, and workers’ compensation (WC) interact, and sometimes contradict each other by presenting different scenarios where each law comes into play. This interactive session will include scenarios where the audience will be able to vote on an outcome and to choose which, if any, of the laws apply. We will also highlight where FMLA, ADA and WC intersect and diverge, and how it impacts your integrated programs.

Robin Trefethen, MS, Organizational Leadership and Human Resource Management, Senior Account Service Manager, Liberty Mutual Insurance CompanyJeffrey A. Kramer, Vice President & Manager, Medical Services, Liberty Mutual Insurance CompanyJulie K. Johnson, CCM, CLMS, CPDM, Leave Services Operations Manager, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
2D. Lawyers Hate Trees: Keep Your FMLA/ADA/Workers’ Comp Paperwork Compliant 
Employers want to do right by employees, yet are often drowning in paperwork driven by the ADA, the FMLA, and workers’ compensation. It’s so tempting to streamline the paperwork and the processes and accidentally get onto a slippery slope. Hear from employer defense lawyers on what proper documentation looks like, how to be compliant through paper and technology, and how best to prepare a defense to a claim.

Dawn Van Tassel, JD, Founder, Van Tassel Law FirmKate Bischoff, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, Employment Attorney & HR Consultant, tHRive Law & Consulting LLC
4:00-4:15 pm Comfort Break
4:15-5:15 pm 3A. Navigating Comorbiditites in FMLA/ADA 
According to law firm Seyfarth Shaw, ADA Title III lawsuits are up 63% over 2015, giving employers cause to evaluate their accommodations process. In addition, rising rates of morbid obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorders, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol are adding immense challenges to employers before, during, and after FML and are conditions that may lead an employer to consider ADA accommodations. This presentation will explore strategies that employers can implement to handle comorbidities when determining ADA eligibility; the importance of comprehensive medical oversight and monitoring during any leave that might result in an ADA claim; and tools that employers can begin to leverage to create both short-term and long-term strategies that meaningfully support employee well-being.

Linda Croushore, MEd, CRC, LPC, Director of Disability Services, UPMC
3B. A Roundtable Discussion on Behavioral Interventions with Intermittent Leaves 
Mental or behavioral health intermittent FMLA leaves triggered by conditions such as depression, anxiety, panic, stress, and grief are on the rise. Recent data indicate that these intermittent leaves are leading to an increased number of continuous leaves. Is it possible to intervene early in the leave process to prevent a continuous leave? During this session, you will gain a better understanding of how an intermittent FMLA leave can lead to a continuous leave, how to intervene early to prevent this from occurring, and how to maneuver through the legal landmines and focus on the key pieces of information needed to remain compliant throughout the process. We will share clinical insights from a recent pilot study along with best practices. Time will also be provided for participants to share their own experiences.

Carrie Sobleskey, Benefit Consultant, Leave of Absence, The Coca Cola CompanyRebecca Spreckelmeier, BA, MSc, Head, Absence Management, AetnaMichael Lacroix, PhD, Associate Medical Director, Aetna
3C. Using Innovation to Maximize Behavioral Health Accommodations 
Identifying appropriate accommodations for behavioral health claims can be challenging in today’s environment due to their complexity. This difficulty, coupled with the need to comply with FMLA guidelines and ADA requirements, often creates unique challenges for employers. To address these challenges, it’s critical for employers to utilize creative accommodation approaches within their stay-at-work and return-to-work efforts. This session will examine successful accommodation approaches implemented by Park Nicollet, a 9,000 employee healthcare system. We’ll showcase real-life behavioral claims examples to prove how a little innovation helped yield meaningful impacts on short-term disability and FMLA durations, employee productivity, and compliance. In addition, panelists will illustrate how to leverage IBI’s benchmarking data to evaluate the health of your disability and absence management programs.

Kari Olson Finnegan. Director, Employee Occupational Health & Safety, Park Nicollet Health ServicesDr. Dan Jolivet, PhD, Behavioral Health Director, The StandardDavid Setzkorn, MBA, CPCU, National Practice Leader, Absence Management, The Standard
3D. A Fine Line: Balancing Confidentiality During Disability and Leave Investigations 
Expectations of confidentiality are one of the most important factors when employees come forward to discuss concerns or complaints about violations of disability and leave policies and laws. These expectations are amplified when the employee has a non-visible disability or medical condition. Striking a balance between employee expectations for confidentiality and the employer’s need for information that might impact the workplace is critical. Understanding how to address complex and sensitive situations effectively can help organizations meet these responsibilities while maintaining employees’ trust and productivity. This session will use interactive exercises and realistic case scenarios to provide practical information and specific tools you can apply at work, including examples of ways to phrase and frame the discussion.

Susan W. Brecher, Esq, Director, Human Capital Development, Cornell UniversityJudy Young, MA, Assistant Director, Training and Development, Cornell University
Evening Open


Wednesday | May 3

7:00 am-1:00 pm Registration Open
7:00-8:00 am Last Chance Networking Breakfast 
Sponsored by:

General Session
8:00-9:00 am Marijuana, Opioids, and Alcohol & the Intersection with FMLA & ADA 
At some time in their lives, millions of Americans have abused drugs and alcohol. While many are in recovery, others continue their struggle. Inevitably, your workplace includes individuals battling addiction. Are you prepared to address the resulting disability and leave-related issues and costs? Intended for all levels, this session will provide an overview of the applicable employment laws, address the available accommodation and leave options under the ADA and FMLA, provide case studies, explain what you need to know about state marijuana laws, and offer best practices to apply in your company.

Eric Meyer, Partner, Dilworth Paxton, LLPRobyn Marino, Counsel, Cigna
9:00-9:30 am Coffee & Conversation Break  
Sponsored by:

9:30-10:30 am


The DOL and EEOC at your Door: Preparation & Prevention 
As the enforcement agencies for the FMLA and ADA, we sometimes feel that we are at the mercy of the DOL and EEOC. And yet, there are many things you can do to prepare your organization if they do come knocking at your door. Or better still, strategies you can employ that will help you avoid the investigation altogether. This session will explore the DOL and EEOC enforcement efforts scheduled for 2017 and determine what those mean for your employment practices and absence programs. You will also hear about the intersecting laws that are being considered when compliance reviews are conducted jointly by the DOL and EEOC and how you can prepare your organization.

Scott Plamondon, JD . Attorney, Plamondon Law GroupSharon Andrus, Director, National Technical Compliance, SedgwickBryon Bass SVP, Disability and Absence Practice & Compliance, Sedgwick
10:30-11:45 am Ask the Experts! 
Our closing “Ask the Experts” session allows conference attendees to submit their most challenging questions to our panel of distinguished FMLA/ADA legal experts. You provide the uncensored questions, and they provide the unfiltered answers — even if it isn’t what you want to hear! This interactive discussion between attendees and panelists allows audience members to have their “real world” questions answered by the specialists. Come prepared with your toughest questions and the most perplexing challenges faced by your company. And best of all, there will be no billable hours or consulting fees incurred!

Francis P. Alvarez, Esq, Principal and Leader of Disability, Leave & Health Management Practice, Jackson Lewis PCJaclyn Kugell, JD, Partner, Morgan, Brown & Joy, LLPJeff Nowak, JD, Partner and Co-Chair, Labor and Employment Practice Group, Franczek Radelet PC

David Mohl, JD, Associate General Counsel, Global Labor & Employment, Chief Privacy Officer, The Hershey Company

11:45 am-12:00 pm Closing Remarks 

Terri Rhodes, MBA, CPDM, CCMP, Chief Executive Officer, DMEC
12:00-1:00 pm CEU Forms Signed