Winners announced for annual ECN Awards

April 2017

NASHVILLE – The editors and writers of California Employment Law Letter and Indiana Employment Law Letter took home trophies for “General Excellence” in 2016 during the awards presentation today at the Employers Counsel Network National Conference.

The California award winners are editors Mark Schickman and Cathleen Yonahara with Freeland Cooper & Foreman LLP in San Francisco. To cover one of the busiest states in the country, they oversee a 12-page, twice-monthly publication and coordinate the coverage with a Board of Contributors comprised of seven other California law firms. On top of that, Mark and Cathleen both contribute insightful, practical articles and commentary in each issue. Both attended today’s awards ceremony.

The Indiana newsletter is written and edited by a talented team of attorneys from Faegre Baker Daniels LLP: John Neighbours, Brian Garrison, Sarah Bowers, Sarah Breslin, Samantha Chapman, Toni Everton, Rozlyn Fulgoni-Britton, Ryan Funk, Angela Johnson, Sarah Noack, Ryann Ricchio, Amanda Shelby, Amy Steketee Fox, Jenie Van Hampton, and Tareen Zafrullah. Each month, they tackle a wide variety of topics—from state legislation, to 7th Circuit rulings, to general topics that affect employers nationwide—while driving home how the rulings or issues directly affect Indiana employers in an interesting, reader-friendly style. Garrison was present to accept the award.

Three ECN member firms were recognized for consistently beating their monthly deadlines by turning in their newsletter issues on time or early:

New Jersey Employment Law Letter, edited by Theresa Kelly, Francine Esposito, Mary Rogers, Patrick McCarthy, Michael Bissinger, and Heather Weine Brochin, all with Day Pitney LLP in Parsippany. Kelly accepted the award for the firm.

— South Dakota Employment Law Letter, edited by Jennifer Frank, Kassie Shiffermiller, and Samuel Kerr, all with Lynn, Jackson, Shultz & Lebrun, P.C., in Rapid City.

— West Virginia Employment Law Letteredited by Larry Rector with Steptoe & Johnson PLLC in Bridgeport, who was present today.

Three editors received trophies for Best Personal Column:

  • Dinita James and Jodi Bohr each won a prize for taking turns producing a monthly column for Arizona Employment Law Letter called “Work on It.” As James has explained the column, it “gives us a chance to address [readers] more directly and share what’s top of mind to us in the broad and seemingly ever-expanding area where the law and workplace intersect. We will follow trends, give you our best practice tips, and vent about problem areas in which employers sometimes make our jobs more difficult.” She is an attorney with Gonzalez Law, LLC in Tempe, while Bohr works for Gallagher & Kennedy, P.A., in Phoenix. Both are attending the conference.
  • Utah Employment Law Letter editor Elaine Young  was saluted for her monthly “Immigration Update” columns. Especially after the sharp uptick in interest and focus on national immigration issues over the past year, she also has become a frequent speaker at BLR events and a regular contributor to Federal Employment Law Insider.

Taking home prizes for being “Most State-Specific” were:
New York Employment Law Letter, edited by Charlie Kaplan with Sills Cummis & Gross P.C., in New York City and Paul Sweeney with Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP, in Binghamton.

Virginia Employment Law Letter editors Jonathan Mook and Bernard DiMuro with DiMuroGinsberg, PC, in Alexandria and Michael Barnsback with O’Hagen Meyer in Alexandria.

Kaplan, Sweeney, Mook, and Barnsback are attending the conference.

Award-winning intros

Two newsletters were cited for writing excellent introductions: Alabama Employment Law Letter and Massachusetts Employment Law Letter:

“OSHA discourages blanket postaccident drug testing”

by Al Vreeland with Lehr Middlebrooks Vreeland & Thompson, P.C., in Birmingham, AL

Since the name of their game is safety, you would think our friends at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) wouldn’t want forklift drivers and overhead crane operators toking on a bong before their shifts. We’ve grown accustomed to contradictory government directives (e.g., the Affordable Care Act (ACA) encourages employer-sponsored wellness programs, while the EEOC thinks they’re the devil). But when a single agency with the sole mission of promoting workplace safety suggests postaccident drug testing may make the workplace less safe, we’re gobsmacked.

“Digging for a valid claim: There must be a pony in here somewhere!”
by Stefanie M. Renaud with Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C., in Springfield, MA

Former President Ronald Reagan famously made popular a joke about a boy and his quest for a pony. As the joke goes, the parents of a young boy were worried that their son was too optimistic to be able to cope with life’s realities. They sought the assistance of a psychiatrist, who, to dampen the boy’s outlook, took the boy to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. Instead of responding with disgust, the boy let out a yelp of delight, climbed to the top of the pile, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands. The baffled psychiatrist asked, “What do you think you’re doing?” The little boy replied, “With all this manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere!”

A recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit (whose rulings apply to all Massachusetts employers) illustrates just what can happen when courts keep looking for a pony in a pile of otherwise insignificant material.

Headline-writing highs

Four states won trophies for best headlines of the year:

— “Did court hear hoofbeats and think ‘zebras’? One justice thought so” for an article written by Montana Employment Law Letter editor Jason Ritchie, an attorney with Ritchie Manning LLP in Billings.

— “8th Circuit to Jimmy John’s: NLRA violations so fast, you’ll freak” for an article written for Minnesota Employment Law Letter by contributing writer Brandon Wheeler with Felhaber Larson in Minneapolis (which also won in this category in 2015).

— “Pray for relief: Peeling back the layers of Onionhead to reveal a ‘religion’” for an article written by  Maine Employment Law Letter contributor Sam Miller, an attorney with Brann & Isaacson in Lewiston. The firm is a regular winner in this category.

— “Trump Taj Mahal: making bankruptcy law great for ailing Atlantic City employers” for an article written by New Jersey Employment Law Letter contributor Kevin Skelly, an attorney with Day Pitney LLP in Parsippany.

Minnesota editor Ryan Olson, Maine editors Peter Lowe and Dan Stockford, and New Jersey editor Theresa Kelly are in attendance.