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More Than 150 Attend Baker Donelson Employment Law Seminar

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(Johnson City, TN/March 30, 2009) On March 5, more than 150 professionals attended "Urgent Issues for Modern Employers," an all-day employment law seminar presented by the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC. Attendees included human resources managers, CEOs, directors, vice presidents and owners from nearly 90 businesses throughout the Tri-Cities area. This was the largest turnout the Firm has seen at this event, which has been presented annually by Baker Donelson for 13 years.

According to Steven H. Trent, shareholder in Baker Donelson's Johnson City/Tri-Cities office and former chair of the Firm's Labor & Employment Department, the high turnout for the seminar is indicative of the intense pressures that organizations are facing in employment-related issues.

"Businesses must understand and comply with a massive amount of employment regulations and laws," said Mr. Trent. "Add to that the current difficult economic environment and significant changes in employment legislation, and it's clear that employers today face virtually unprecedented challenges in managing their workforce."

Mr. Trent notes that a major concern for companies is the impact of the economic downturn, which is raising questions about measures such as reductions in workforce and effectively managing employee wages and number of hours worked. "Employers are doing their best to avoid drastic measures such as large layoffs or reductions in work hours. But when it's an unfortunate reality, they need to know how to handle these changes so that they are in compliance with all the applicable regulations," he said.

Employers are also concerned with recently implemented and potential upcoming changes in employment-related legislation. "New regulations for the Family Medical Leave Act went into effect on January 19 and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed by President Obama on January 29. So in a period of less than two weeks, employers saw significant changes in legislation that will have a tremendous impact on how they manage their workforce," said Mr. Trent. He adds that the possible passage of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is also weighing very heavily on the minds of employers. "If the EFCA becomes law, it will bring about the most sweeping changes to labor law in the past 60 years. Businesses are very interested in understanding exactly how the EFCA may affect them."

The seminar covered a variety of employment issues with presentations from a dozen of the Firm's labor and employment attorneys on topics including the EFCA, reductions in force, workers' compensation in Tennessee and Virginia, maintaining a union-free environment, retaliation and whistleblower laws, and the new Family Medical Leave Act regulations. Attendees at the event represented a range of businesses including municipal organizations, energy companies, professional services, educational organizations and manufacturers.

"Employment issues touch all businesses, no matter the size or type of company," notes Mr. Trent, adding that the demand among employers for guidance on these issues has led to Baker Donelson adding another full-day seminar, which will be held in Knoxville on April 22. The Firm has also produced DVDs from several of the sessions at the Kingsport seminar and will make those available to businesses for training purposes. For additional information regarding the training DVDs, contact Steven Trent at strent@bakerdonelson.com or 423.928.0181.

The Baker Donelson Labor & Employment Group represents local, regional and national clients in all types of labor and employment matters including litigation, as well as litigation avoidance through ensuring compliance with employment-related laws and regulations and extensive training programs for client supervisors and managers. Baker Donelson has been ranked among the top 10 labor and employment litigation firms in the country by Employment Law 360, a national news source for employment law and human resources professionals.

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