The Honorable Jennifer A. Abruzzo (Invited)

The Honorable Jennifer A. Abruzzo (Invited)

On July 22, 2021, Jennifer A. Abruzzo began serving as General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  Ms. Abruzzo had previously worked for the NLRB for over two decades, including as Field Attorney, Supervisory Field Attorney, Deputy Regional Attorney, Deputy Assistant General Counsel, Deputy General Counsel, and Acting General Counsel.  Immediately prior to her appointment as General Counsel, Ms. Abruzzo served as Special Counsel for Strategic Initiatives for the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

Prior to her work at CWA, Ms. Abruzzo was Acting General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel at the NLRB. Ms. Abruzzo spent almost twenty-three years working for the NLRB in various capacities, including as Field Attorney, Supervisory Field Attorney and Deputy Regional Attorney in the Miami, Florida office, as well as Deputy Assistant General Counsel in the Division of Operations-Management in Washington, DC, where she oversaw Regional operations in the Northeast and Midwest.

Angelo I. Amador

Angelo I. Amador

Executive Director | Restaurant Law Center

Angelo Amador is Executive Director of the Restaurant Law Center. He also serves as Senior Vice President of Legal Advocacy and Regulatory Counsel for the National Restaurant Association.

Amador serves as chief litigation officer for the Association, prioritizing legal matters to be pursued through amicus briefs or first party litigation. He also represents the Association’s interests by advocating before regulatory agencies; testifying at public hearings; drafting and filing regulatory comments; and, when necessary, recommending and managing legal challenges.

Prior to his current role, Amador was vice president of labor and workforce policy. He was  responsible for working with the business community to develop the restaurant industry’s position on labor, health care, immigration, education and other issues affecting the benefits, availability and quality of the workforce. He advocated on behalf of the Association and its members before Congress and the executive branch.

Before joining the National Restaurant Association, Amador served as an executive director in the Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits Division of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, he had responsibility for workforce issues, global migration, and travel/border policy. Previously, he was in private practice and served as law clerk to the Hon. David T. Stitt, judge in the 19th Judicial Circuit of Virginia. Prior to his clerkship, he worked in Washington, D.C., for the governor of Puerto Rico as assistant director/legislative counsel and as staff attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Jennifer L. Bragg

Jennifer L. Bragg

Partner, Life Sciences & Healthcare; Litigation | Skadden LLP

Jennifer Bragg, head of the firm’s Washington, D.C. litigation practice, is a nationally recognized lawyer advising Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated companies facing government investigations and related enforcement challenges. Since serving in the FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel as associate chief counsel for enforcement, Ms. Bragg has represented companies in investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. This work also includes conducting internal investigations for companies that involve potential violations of relevant policies and procedures. She also advises on corporate compliance program development and operations designed to mitigate the risk of fraud and abuse.

Ms. Bragg advises pharmaceutical and medical device companies in connection with complex regulatory issues to minimize litigation and enforcement risks and to overcome transactional hurdles. Additionally, she frequently conducts due diligence and related counseling in connection with transactions in the life sciences and health care industries, and has litigation and trial experience.

Karen Bremer, CAE

Karen Bremer, CAE

President & CEO | Georgia Restaurant Association

With over 44 years in the hospitality industry, Bremer is the CEO of the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA), representing one of the largest industries in the state. The GRA serves as the unified voice for over 18,500 foodservice and drinking places in the state of Georgia with total sales in excess of $20 billion which provides more than 476,000 jobs.

Bremer was the former owner of Dailey’s and City Grill restaurants and was a top executive with the Peasant Restaurant Group, starting out as a manager and ultimately being named its president. Bremer is a founding member of the GRA and the past president of the GRA Board. She serves on the executive committee for the National Restaurant Association, board of directors for the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), and serves as vice president for the Council of State Restaurant Associations. She also sits on the Industry Advisory Board of Georgia State University’s Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration and is a trustee of the Arby’s Foundation. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International and the International Women’s Forum.

Felice B. Ekelman

Felice B. Ekelman

Principal | Jackson Lewis P.C.

Felice B. Ekelman is a Principal in the New York City office of Jackson Lewis P.C. where she serves as the Co-Lead of the Firm’s Restaurant Industry Team, and Leads the Firm’s Hospitality Industry Group (restaurants, hotels and fitness).  Felice is an established leader and has served on the Jackson Lewis Board of Directors, as well as the Boards of other organizations.  Felice approaches the attorney-client relationship as a business partnership, and clients rely on her to develop both legal and business strategies and when necessary, to litigate “bet the company” cases.

Felice places paramount importance on understanding her clients’ businesses, their goals and tolerance for risk. She has decades-long relationships with clients because of her ability to communicate with senior management, develop consensuses in problem solving, and work with clients to execute their goals. Known for her ability to develop thoughtful and creative solutions to complex workplace issues, clients trust her judgment.  Felice has in-depth knowledge of the challenges facing employers in the hospitality industry.  Her experience in the industry is wide-ranging.  She is a well-known class action litigator and has defended countless wage and hour claims both in court and before arbitrators.  She is an experienced trainer and investigator, having investigated claims of wrongdoing asserted by employees as well as customers.   Felice prides herself on providing practical well thought out advice that addresses the particular needs of the employers she represents.  Her experience in the hospitality industry is well established, and she is a sought-out speaker at industry events.

Adam S. Forman

Adam S. Forman

Member of the Firm | Epstein Becker & Green P.C.

Adam Forman leverages his 25 years of experience representing employers in all manner of employment litigation and traditional labor matters to advise clients on emerging technologies and their impact in the workplace.

Based in the Detroit-metro and Chicago offices of Epstein Becker Green, Adam represents a broad range of clients, including automotive, health care, hospitality, logistics, retail, staffing, technology, and utility companies, among others. He is a frequent writer and national lecturer on issues related to technology in the workplace, such as artificial intelligence (AI), digital and social media, and privacy issues facing employers.

Because of his experience as a workplace technology and labor and employment law attorney, Adam is often interviewed by newspapers, radio stations, and legal blogs. He co-leads the firm’s AI practice group.

Adam’s employment litigation practice focuses on defending employers against claims of wrongful discharge, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage and hour violations. Employers also turn to Adam to represent them in labor arbitrations, unfair labor practice charges, and collective bargaining. A significant portion of Adam’s practice includes training companies on workplace compliance issues, such as workforce engagement and conducting effective workplace investigations.

Gabriel K. Gillett

Gabriel K. Gillett

Partner | Jenner & Block LLP

An appellate and complex commercial litigator, Gabriel Gillett develops, evaluates, and executes successful long-term legal strategies for clients facing multifaceted disputes. He crafts winning briefs and arguments in courts across the country on a range of issues, including contract and business disputes, class actions, government regulation, insurance coverage, antitrust, civil procedure, securities, preemption, and constitutional and administrative law.

Leading Jenner & Block’s partnership with the Restaurant Law Center, Mr. Gillett has been a go-to lawyer on major issues impacting restaurant and hospitality companies, franchisors, and franchisees. He has led the firm’s high-profile lawsuits in Chicago and New York on behalf of iconic restaurants seeking business interruption coverage from their insurance carriers. Mr. Gillett has also served as appellate counsel for the Restaurant Law Center and state restaurant associations in many federal and state cases involving business interruption claims, regulatory challenges, antitrust, ERISA, and other important issues.

Chris Gokturk

Chris Gokturk

Principal | Littler Mendelson P.C.

Chris Gokturk assists companies in understanding and mitigating their affirmative action and systemic discrimination risks, particularly in the areas of talent acquisition, compensation, performance management, as well as workforce planning and restructuring.

Chris has more than 20 years of professional experience in compliance, enterprise risk management, and statistics. She has helped clients across all major industry groups develop, implement, and defend compliant affirmative action programs.

She is a frequent speaker and trainer on pay equity and the requirements enforced by the OFCCP. In addition to her practice, Chris is also an active participant in Littler’s Diversity Group.

The Honorable Marvin E. Kaplan

The Honorable Marvin E. Kaplan

Marvin Kaplan has served as a Member of the NLRB since August 10, 2017. On July 29, 2020, the Senate confirmed him for another term of five years expiring August 27, 2025. Previous to his appointment to the NLRB, Chairman Kaplan served as Chief Counsel to the Chairman of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Before his work with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, he served as counsel for the House Committee on Oversight Government Reform and as policy counsel for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. He also worked at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Labor Management Standards and with the law firm McDowell, Rice, Smith & Buchanan. Mr. Kaplan received his J.D. from Washington University in St Louis, and his B.S. from Cornell University.

Riley Lagesen

Riley Lagesen

Shareholder | Greenberg Traurig LLP

Riley Lagesen, chair of Greenberg Traurig’s Global Restaurant Industry Group, serves as lead counsel to many of the nation’s most well-known restaurant brands and culinary talent. Riley’s passion for the restaurant industry comes from his many years as a restaurant employee, and later, a restaurant owner, in Los Angeles. He saw an opportunity for law firms to better serve restaurant industry clients, and has dedicated his career to supporting both clients and the restaurant industry.

Ranked and recognized in the restaurant industry as a leading legal and business advisor, Riley has deep restaurant finance and development experience, enabling him to help clients develop and execute up growth strategies. He is also well-connected in restaurant and food policy circles, leading efforts to create greater public access to real food, among other things.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Riley co-founded the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund (RERF) with his long-time client Chef Guy Fieri, which raised approximately $23 million and provided over 40,000 grants to impacted restaurant employees. In recognition of this work, Riley was selected as by the National Law Journal as a 2020 Crisis Leadership Trailblazer. Riley also founded and created Restaurant High, a popular not-for-profit and invitation only business, leadership and advocacy summit that attracts leading restaurant minds from around the country.

Bill McConagha

Bill McConagha

Partner, Life Sciences & Healthcare | Skadden LLP

Bill McConagha is a nationally recognized lawyer in FDA law who has a unique combination of experience in enforcement, regulatory and legislative matters. He worked for more than 17 years at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a variety of capacities, including an assistant commissioner, a senior attorney in the Office of Chief Counsel (OCC) and as a health policy adviser to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).

While in the OCC, Mr. McConagha handled enforcement and defensive litigation, prosecuted criminal cases as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, advised the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, and provided regulatory counsel on a range of issues to the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), the Office of Regulatory Affairs, the Office of Combination Products, the Office of Policy, and four FDA commissioners. As an assistant commissioner, Mr. McConagha managed the FDA’s advisory committee process, helped resolve scientific and procedural disputes with stakeholders, and helped develop new scientific dispute resolution policies. At the HELP Committee, he played a key role in drafting and negotiating the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 and the FDA Safety and Innovation Act of 2012. He also counseled committee leadership on the FDA-related aspects of health care reform legislation.

James Paretti, Jr.

James Paretti, Jr.

Shareholder | Littler Mendelson P.C.

James A. Paretti, Jr. is an experienced management-side employment and labor relations attorney with in-depth political and policy knowledge of labor, pension, healthcare and employment law, regulations and legislation. Jim is well versed in all aspects of legislative and political processes with demonstrated knowledge in the substance of federal labor and employment policy. He has over two decades of experience working with federal legislators and policymakers, including former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Chairmen of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and senior level administration officials.

Prior to joining Littler, Jim was chief of staff and senior counsel to the acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He provided legal and political counsel with respect to all aspects of agency business, administered and managed the Office of the Chair where he was responsible for over 2,200 employees and a 375 million dollar annual budget, and served as primary liaison to regulated stakeholders and Capitol Hill.

Alden J. Parker

Alden J. Parker

Regional Managing Partner • Co-Chair, Hospitality Industry Group | Fisher Phillips LLP

Alden Parker is the managing partner of the firm’s Sacramento office and the co-chair of the Hospitality Industry Group. Alden represents employers in all facets of employment law matters. He has considerable experience defending employers in litigation involving claims under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), California’s wage and hour laws, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), California Family Rights Act (CFRA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Alden has also defended employers against whistleblowing and retaliation claims, including claims under the California Whistleblower Act and various provisions of the California Labor Code.

Alden has extensive experience defending employers in federal and state court, as well as in investigations by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), United States Department of Labor (DOL) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

In addition to defending his clients in litigation, Alden frequently counsels employers to assist them in avoiding litigation. He regularly advises clients on leave management issues and the interactive process for employees with disabilities, reinstatement obligations under various leave laws and wage and hour compliance. Alden has prepared employee handbooks and a variety of agreements, including independent contractor, employment, confidentiality and trade secrets agreements.

His clients are involved in a variety of industries, including restaurants, retail, construction, and healthcare. Alden is also a frequent speaker for many human resources organizations, including those affiliated with the Society for Human Resource Management.

Laura A. Pierson-Scheinberg

Laura A. Pierson-Scheinberg

Principal | Jackson Lewis P.C.

Laura A. Pierson-Scheinberg is a principal in the San Francisco, California, and Baltimore, Maryland, offices of Jackson Lewis P.C and is co-leader of the Retail industry group. Laura represents employers in labor and employment matters, with a particular focus on traditional labor issues, union elections and unfair labor practice charges. She has extensive experience in collective bargaining, from serving as chief spokesperson to developing strategy behind the scenes. Laura’s background includes bargaining for both large and small clients from a local to a national level in a wide range of industries, including, but not limited to, manufacturing, retail and healthcare. When recessive bargaining and labor-management disputes become strikes, she has worked with her clients to develop contingency plans and strike preparedness. She also has experience with government contractors subject to the Service Contract Act.

When negotiating contracts, Laura focuses on appropriate contract language to minimize labor disputes. She assists employers to comply with union contracts, avoid grievances where appropriate, and respond to grievances when filed. However, there are times when litigation is unavoidable, and she has tried numerous arbitrations ranging from discharge, contract interpretation issues and litigation involving other collective bargaining rights.

Laura has also defended clients in such areas as disability, sex, race and other discrimination suits, as well as wrongful discharge, wage disputes and employment tort litigation. She has provided advice and counsel to human resources representatives and has reviewed employee handbooks and company policies.

Nora Stilestein

Nora Stilestein

Partner | Sheppard Mullin LLP

Nora Stilestein is a partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group in the firm’s Los Angeles office. Nora represents employers in all facets of the litigation and trial process, in California and federal courts. She has significant experience defending wage and hour class actions and PAGA actions, has defeated class certification motions, and has defended certified claims through trial. Nora has also had success before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal, which affirmed summary judgment for a restaurant employer in a published opinion. In addition to her experience in state and federal courts, Nora has also represented employers in the arbitration forum.

Nora regularly advises employers on compliance with applicable laws, including wage and hour obligations, the use of independent contractors, and employee discipline and terminations. She has also designed client-specific trainings on the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in the workplace. In particular, Nora has represented clients in the medical, hospitality, retail, and technology industries.