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Psychological Issues in the Workplace 2021


Speaker(s): Andrew P. Levin, M.D., Andrew W. Meisler, Ph.D., Anne L. Clark, Christie Del Rey-Cone, Devjani H. Mishra, Diane G. Knox, Diane I. Smason, George Woods, Jr., M.D., L.F.A.P.A., Jonathan Ben-Asher, Lisa Lupion, Nina T. Pirrotti, Stephen P. Sonnenberg, Valdi Licul, Zachary D. Fasman
Recorded on: Oct. 26, 2021
PLI Program #: 306692

Anne L. Clark is a partner at Vladeck, Raskin & Clark, P.C., and concentrates on employment discrimination and other employment-related matters. 

She graduated from New York University and New York University School of Law.  Prior to joining Vladeck, she served as Law Clerk to Honorable Raymond J. Pettine of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island and was a Skadden Fellow/Staff Attorney with the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, where she worked on employment-related matters. 

Ms. Clark has been an adjunct faculty member at Fordham University School of Law and has lectured on employment matters for a variety of organizations.  She is a former member of NELA/NY's Executive Board.


Christie is a Founding Partner in Cerasia & Del Rey-Cone LLP. She is recognized as one of the leading labor and employment lawyers of her generation in New York.  In 2016, Chambers USA described Christie as "extremely smart" and quoted sources as saying that she "knows the law but is also very business-minded."  Chambers also stated that Christie is an "experienced litigator" who also is noted for providing clients with employment counseling and human resources training.  In 2015, Chambers noted that Christie is "a very well-rounded attorney, has great experience and covers a broad range of subjects.” Clients also observed that “she's very smart and very practical. She definitely gives me the sense that she's going above and beyond on my cases."  While in 2014, Chambers USA noted that clients commend Christie for her ability to "figure out what's really needed and what the most direct line from A to B is, to help you get the result you want in a reasonable manner."  Chambers first recognized Christie in 2007, when it named her as the only “Associate to Watch” in New York for labor and employment.  In 2012, she was one of Chambers USA’s five finalists for its national “Up and Coming” Female Employment Lawyer of the Year award.

As a full service employment lawyer, Christie represents employees and employers in a broad range of federal and state court litigation and arbitrations, employment counseling, and human resource training. Her litigation experience includes, among other matters, complex discrimination, harassment and retaliation suits, and class/collective wage and hour actions.

Her counseling experience includes terminations, employee classifications (e.g., exempt/non-exempt; independent contractor/employee), whistleblower issues and restrictive covenants. Christie regularly manages internal investigations into employee misconduct and advises clients involved in questions of wrongdoing or the initiating of complaints. She has substantial experience conducting wage/hour and employee classification audits in several industries and preparing human resources policies and handbooks.

Christie also spends time leading employment law training programs on topics such as conducting internal investigations, proper classification of employees, compliance with reasonable accommodation laws, and anti-harassment, anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policies and best practices.  Frequently, employers also hire Christie to conduct independent investigations.

Christie has also added mediation to her practice.  After years of participating in "the fight," Christie has learned that, in many instances, resolution is the best and only answer.  With that in mind, she has allowed her breadth of representation of both individuals and employers educate her ability to serve as a neutral to bring parties together.  Christie mediates cases on both a private and pro bono basis including as a Special Master for the New York Appellate Division - First Department.

Christie has a genuine passion for labor and employment law, and attributes much of her success to being well-mentored both by the federal magistrate judge for whom she clerked after law school and the partners with whom she worked closely as a partner and associate at some of the world’s most prestigious law firms. What Christie most enjoys in her practice is that the nature of employment law involves solving problems for clients and dealing with people in a context of life that, for many, defines them – their livelihood.

Before entering private practice, she clerked for U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlene R. Lindsay of the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Christie is admitted to practice in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and before the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second and Third Circuits, all the U. S. District Courts in New York, the U. S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Christie received her law degree from Seton Hall University Law School in 2002, where she was the Notes and Comments Editor for the Constitutional Law Journal, and her undergraduate degree in Sociology and American Studies from Franklin & Marshall College in 1999.  Christie now proudly serves as a member of F&M's Alumni Leadership Council.

Christie spends a significant amount of time giving back to her community. Christie serves as President of the PDR Foundation for the Study of Uterine Cancer (a grass roots organization started following her mother's brief, but valiant, battle with cancer). Christie and the PDR Foundation are passionate supporters of the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge in New York City, which provides free lodging for cancer patients being treated in New York City. Christie also likes to use the non-legal parts of her brain to teach barre fitness classes for a studio in NYC and work on the podcast that she co-hosts, From Where She Sits.  Christie’s life outside of her professional life, passion projects and organizations revolves largely around family and, particularly, cooking big Italian dinners on Sundays -- a tradition she inherited from her mother and embraced.


Devjani is a Shareholder in Littler’s New York office, where she advises management regarding all aspects of the employer-employee relationship.  She is a member of Littler’s COVID-19 Task Force and Return to Work Initiative.  Prior to joining Littler, Devjani spent almost seven years as the primary in-house employment counsel for a global biotechnology company serving patients in more than 50 countries.

Devjani works with companies of all sizes, from startups to multinational corporations, on a full range of complex workforce challenges, including planning and performing transactional due diligence, workforce integration and business restructuring; building corporate compliance and ethics programs, performing employment practices audits and managing internal investigations; supporting stakeholders in capturing best practices for recruiting, contracting, alternative staffing, performance management, and discipline; and addressing employee requests for flexible work, accommodation and military, medical and family leaves of absence.  Devjani is also an experienced employment litigator, and regularly represents management in federal and state courts and agencies.

Devjani received her B.A. in Political Science with distinction from Yale University and her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.  She is a regular presenter on employment law topics at the Practising Law Institute, the American Bar Association and in other forums.


Diane I. Smason started as a trial attorney with the Chicago District Office of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1998 and became a supervisor in 2004.  In January, 2020, she was promoted to Deputy Director of the Chicago District Office. While in the Legal Unit, she litigated a wide variety of matters, including class and systemic cases, under Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA. She regularly speaks about the EEOC and all areas of federal employment discrimination law. Ms. Smason is actively involved in the American Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section and is past Public Co-Chair of the Employment Rights and Responsibilities (“ERR”) Committee and the Section’s Diversity and Inclusion in the Legal Profession Committee. She is also a Board Member of the Federal Bar Association, Chicago Chapter, and Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.

Prior to the EEOC, Ms. Smason was an associate at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in Chicago practicing labor and employment law and general commercial litigation.  She also served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Bernard A. Friedman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.  Ms. Smason attended the University of Michigan Law School and has a B.A. in English and political science from the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated magna cum laude.


Diane Knox went in-house in 2007 after ten years as a big-firm litigator.  After fourteen years with the company in Legal and Compliance, she has recently become the Senior Vice President for Human Resources and Facilities Management at Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas), though she also hold the title of Legal Advisor. Her team advises Mitsubishi Corporation Group companies throughout North America with respect to a breadth of employment-related and infrastructure matters.


Dr. Andrew Levin, Board Certified in Psychiatry and Forensic Psychiatry, is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry and a supervisor in the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Forensic Fellowship.  A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Dr. Levin did his residency at NYS Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University Department of Psychiatry followed by an NIMH research fellowship in anxiety disorders.   Since training, Dr. Levin has led inpatient, outpatient, and day treatment programs. Dr. Levin's clinical areas of expertise include the evaluation and treatment of trauma, mood disorders, developmental disorders, and anxiety utilizing cognitive/behavioral and psychopharmacologic modalities. In addition, Dr. Levin serves as a forensic consultant in the criminal and civil arenas providing opinions on criminal responsibility, employment discrimination, fitness for duty and disability, trauma, and professional standards of care.   In collaboration with the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office, Dr. Levin published the largest study of secondary trauma in legal professionals.  In the past year in collaboration with the National Institute of Justice at the Department of Justice, Dr. Levin directed an assessment of secondary trauma, burnout, and job satisfaction in forensic professionals in law enforcement and crime laboratories.  The study, published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, was the first to correlate these measures with organizational trauma-readiness.  Additional publications include work on eating disorders, personality, trauma and dissociation, and anxiety disorders.


Dr. Andrew Meisler is a clinical and forensic psychologist in practice in Hartford, CT.  He has also worked for 28 years for the Department of Veterans Affairs, where he served as Clinical Director of an outpatient PTSD treatment clinic and where his primary responsibility for the past 21 years has been conducting psychiatric disability evaluations related to military service. 

Through his VA position Dr. Meisler holds clinical faculty appointments in the Departments of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, where he is involved in the training of Psychiatry residents and Psychology interns.  He has been the recipient of federal research grants related to PTSD, served as a site investigator on a large-scale PTSD treatment study, and has published and presented nationally and internationally on topics including PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Forensic Psychological Evaluation, and Psychiatric Disability Evaluation.  He and a colleague at the VA are leading a program of research examining psychiatric disability evaluations for PTSD claims with the VA system, with preliminary data presented in August 2021 at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychological Association.

Dr. Meisler has taught previous training seminars for attorneys, claims adjusters, and others, including: (1) Psychiatric Disability under the ADA, FMLA, and CFEPA: The psychiatric perspective, Connecticut Bar Institute, 2004; (2) Mental illness and disability: Understanding the clinical and legal minefield, CT Worker’s Compensation Commission and Office of the Attorney General, 2007; (3) If it’s not PTSD, is it still emotional injury? Issues of diagnosis and causation in personal injury, 1st Interdisciplinary Conference on Psychological Injury and Law, Toronto, Canada, 2009; (4) Emotional Damages in Employment Litigation:  A View from the Bench and the Jury Box (panel discussant), Connecticut Bar Association, 2010; and (5) Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Primer for Attorneys, Claims Resolution Managers, and Others in the Field.  Office of the Attorney General & Workers’ Compensation Commission (State of CT), and Gallagher Bassett Insurance Co., 2017; and (6) he served as panel discussant at PLI’s 2020 “Psychological Issues in the Workplace” seminar.    A quick-reference guide, “ten red flags” in work-related psych assessments, was published online in 2010 at the AMAXX site: https://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/2011/06/10-red-flags-in-workers-comp-psychiatric-evaluations/

Dr. Meisler's forensic psychology practice involves mental health evaluation spanning a wide range of legal cases in which there is a possible mental/behavioral element, and includes both civil and criminal cases.  He routinely conducts RMEs for the State of CT insurer and the Office of the Attorney General in workers’ compensation claims.  He also conducts evaluations for attorneys (both plaintiff and defense), employers, and insurance companies in a range of employment matters – including harassment, wrongful termination, and fitness for duty – as well as personal injury and disability cases. He has been deposed numerous times and has had extensive experience testifying in both state and federal court as well as at Connecticut’s Worker’s Compensation Commission and Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.  He is licensed in CT and has served as an expert in cases in CT, RI, MA, VT, and NY.

 


Dr. George Woods is a licensed physician specializing in neuropsychiatry. His private practice focuses on neurodevelopmental disorders, acquired neurocognitive disorders, cognitive impairments secondary to neuropsychiatric disorders, traumatic brain injury, ethnopsychopharmacology and workplace safety. In addition to his clinical practice, George consults with legal teams dealing with complex criminal and civil litigation.

He has worked with Vulcan Industries, Microsoft, Walmart and other companies to develop employment practices, ADA compliance, Artificial Intelligence, and security measures. Dr. Woods is Chief Scientific Officer for Crestwood Behavioral Health, Inc., a major provider of Behavioral Health services. Dr. Woods was appointed to the Governing Board of the Stanford University Medicare Shared Services Program (MSSP) University Health Alliance Accountable Care Organization, LLC.

Dr. Woods is President of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health (IALMH).  This is his second term in 6 years.  He is the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Utah Medical Center, the first psychiatrist to receive this honor. George also received the Historical Prixe from the University of Milan in July 2019.

Dr. Woods is a lecturer at Berkeley Law at University of California, and has taught at the University of Washington-Bothell, the University of California-Davis, and Morehouse School of Medicine. George has taught at PLI for 8 years.


Jonathan Ben-Asher is a partner in Ritz Clark & Ben-Asher LLP in New York.  He represents executives, professionals and other employees in employment disputes, including those involving employment contracts, executive compensation, whistleblowing, retaliation and employment discrimination.  He also has particular expertise in disputes concerning executive compensation in the financial services sector, Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblowing cases, and cases under the False Claims (Qui Tam) Act and Dodd-Frank Act. 

Jonathan is former Chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Section (2013-14).  He has also held numerous leadership positions in the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law, in which he is a member of the Section's governing Council.  He has been Chair of the Section's CLE / Meetings and Institutes Committee; Employee Chair of the Section’s Employment Rights and Responsibilities Committee; Employee Chair of the Section’s Sixth Annual CLE Conference (2012); and Employee Chair of the Employment Rights and Responsibilities Committee’s Contracts and Executive Compensation Subcommittee.

Jonathan was formerly Vice President of the National Employment Lawyers Association/ New York, and a member of its Executive Board.  He is a member of the Advisory Board of the New York University School of Law Center for Labor and Employment Law.  He is a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. 

He is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell, and has repeatedly been named as a New York Super Lawyer,  one of the Best Lawyers in America and in the New York Area, and in Lawdragon 500 and Benchmark Litigation.   He is a frequent speaker on employment law issues for professional groups, including the American Bar Association, New York State Bar Association, New York City Bar Association, the Workshop on Employment Law for Federal Judges of the NYU School of Law Center for Labor and Employment Law, and the Practising Law Institute. He has been quoted on employment law issues in the New York Times, Law 360 and the National Law Journal.

He received his J.D. from New York University School of Law (1980) and his B.A. from Columbia University (1974).


Nina Pirrotti is a partner with the law firm of Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti P.C. which was honored by the Connecticut Law Tribune in 2015 as the Best Litigation Department of the Year for Employment Law.

Nina represents individuals in employment and civil rights litigation and negotiation.  A past president of the Connecticut Employment Lawyers Association (CELA) for approximately a decade and a member of the National Employment Association’s Executive Board, Nina is well versed in all aspects of employment law.  Nina has also litigated on behalf of students and faculty seeking to discharge their rights under Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination and harassment in educational institutions receiving federal funds. 

Nina has received many honors for her advocacy on behalf of employees.  She was named by Best Lawyers of America as its 2020 “Lawyer of the Year” for Employment Law- Individuals in New Haven, Connecticut.  While Nina has been selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers of America in previous years, her selection as “Lawyer of the Year” for 2020 is due to the extremely high feedback Best Lawyers received from her peers.  Nina was also selected as a 2014 Top 50 Connecticut Super Lawyer, placing her among the Top 50 lawyers in the state. She was also selected as a Top 25 Connecticut Woman Super Lawyer and a Top 50 New England Woman Super Lawyer.

In 2015, Nina was appointed by the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut to serve as a member of the Local Civil Rules Advisory Committee and served in that capacity for four years.  In addition to her service on NELA’s Executive Board, Nina is a member of CT-NELA, NY-NELA and NC-NELA.  Nina received her law degree from Yale Law School.  She publishes and routinely lectures nationally on civil rights and employment related topics.


Stephen P. Sonnenberg, Esq. has deep experience in understanding and resolving complex labor and employment disputes. Mr. Sonnenberg’s unique background, which allows him to understand both plaintiff and defendant concerns, comes from the practice of law, experience as a mediator, and prior experience as a psychotherapist. Mr. Sonnenberg is known for his attention to detail, thoughtful approach to emotion-laden disputes, and demeanor conducive to settlement.

Mr. Sonnenberg practiced labor and employment law at the highest levels for 25 years at Paul Hastings, and achieved a prestigious ranking from Chambers USA, within the Labor & Employment band. Leadership roles at the firm included a term as Chair of the New York Employment Law Practice (2014-2017), Vice Chair of the Employment Law Department (International) (2003-2014) and Co-Chair of the Employment Law Department’s national wage and hour law practice (2005-2014). Resident for an equal amount of time in the firm’s Los Angeles and New York offices, Mr. Sonnenberg represented and advised clients in a wide range of employment disputes, including wage and hour class and collective actions, retaliation, wrongful discharge, restrictive covenant, discrimination and harassment lawsuits. He has also overseen and conducted privileged internal investigations in response to complaints of misconduct.

Before practicing law, Mr. Sonnenberg devoted himself to a 15-year career as a clinical social worker in Michigan and California. Mr. Sonnenberg worked in diverse psychiatric settings and community organizations, assisting individuals with a wide range of emotional, vocational and financial challenges, including facilitating the resolution of disputes with family members, employers and other third parties.  Settings included psychiatric hospitals, a community mental health center, and the private practice of psychotherapy working with individuals, couples and families.

Mr. Sonnenberg has mediated numerous matters not only at JAMS but as a member of the Mediation Panels of the U.S. District Court, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. He has taught employment law to members of the federal judiciary through the Federal Judicial Center, has provided employment law training and advice in a variety of settings, and is an adjunct faculty member at Cardozo Law School.


Valdi Licul is a Partner at Wigdor LLP.  Mr. Licul is a highly accomplished civil rights attorney who has devoted his 25-year career to the representation of plaintiffs in employment and anti-discrimination cases.  He has represented numerous plaintiffs in legal matters involving sexual harassment, discrimination based on gender, pregnancy, race, age, national origin, disability, religion and/or sexual orientation, whistleblower retaliation, executive compensation, breach of contract, restrictive covenants, trade secrets, defamation, wage and hour violations and other employment-related disputes. 

A stalwart disability rights advocate, Mr. Licul has represented numerous individuals with disabilities in employment discrimination and civil rights cases in federal and state court, and he has spoken at numerous legal conferences and seminars on disability rights in the workplace and access to justice for people with mental and physical disabilities.  He represents clients from a wide range of industries, including financial services, private equity, accounting, law, healthcare, sports and leisure, media and entertainment, education, real estate, architecture, transportation, telecommunications, fashion and many others. 

Mr. Licul is the Co-chair of the Federal Bar Council’s Employment Litigation Committee and has served on the New York City Bar Association’s Disability Law Committee.  He is also an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law, is a member of the Second Circuit’s Pro Bono Panel and has been invited to serve as pro bono counsel in employment mediation matters by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Mr. Licul is a frequent lecturer and speaker on employment-related legal issues.  He is regularly invited to speak at the New York City Bar Association and other leading educational forums on a variety of legal topics, including disability rights in the workplace, reasonable accommodations for employees with mental health disabilities, legal issues in the hiring process, alternative dispute resolution, drafting and negotiating employment agreements and settlement agreements, and other key employment topics. 

Early in his career, Mr. Licul was a member of the Special Litigation and Appeals Unit of the Mental Hygiene Legal Service for the Appellate Division, Second Department, and previously served as a law clerk to the Honorable Lois Bloom, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York.

Mr. Licul has been honored as a leading plaintiffs’ employment litigator by Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell and Lawdragon.  He received his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School and his M.A. cum laude from the New York Institute of Technology, where he also received his B.A. with honors.


Zach Fasman is a nationally known labor and employment lawyer who currently is an arbitrator, mediator, and law professor.  He became interested in labor law while at the University of Michigan Law School, where he was the first research assistant to work with Professor (later Circuit Court Judge) Harry T. Edwards. He began his career as a labor lawyer at Seyfarth Shaw in Chicago, practiced for 25 years in Washington at Seyfarth Shaw and later at Paul Hastings, and practiced for an additional 20 years in New York at Paul Hastings and Proskauer Rose. He currently teaches labor law and employment law at New York  University Law School.   

Zach has extensive experience in collective bargaining and before the National Labor Relations Board.  He has tried many complex labor cases before the NLRB and in the courts on labor issues, including federal preemption, successorship, civil RICO, and labor-antitrust law. He successfully argued Golden State Transit Corp. v City of Los Angeles, 475 U.S. 608 (1986) and Golden State Transit Corp. v City of Los Angeles, 493 U.S. 103 (1989) in the Supreme Court.   He has written numerous amicus curiae briefs to the Supreme Court on labor and employment law issues. He has extensive experience in arbitration, having tried hundreds of labor arbitrations, as well as many arbitration cases involving statutory and contractual rights.    

Zach has co-extensive experience in employment discrimination law, having served as national Co-Chair of the employment discrimination law practice at Paul Hastings.  Zach has handled scores of employment law cases ranging from nationwide class and collective actions to individual claims and has tried many employment cases before juries as well as in bench trials. He has spoken and written extensively on labor and employment issues and has testified on many occasions before the U.S. Congress and the EEOC on labor and employment law issues.  He worked extensively with Congress and the White House on the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, publishing the first book on that statute shortly after its passage.  

Zach devoted his practice exclusively to labor and employment law.  He has been a frequent speaker at the New York University Conference on Labor and continues to teach employment law to members of the federal judiciary through the Federal Judicial Center and New York University Law School, where he is an emeritus member of the Advisory Board of the NYU Center for Labor and Employment Law.  He has lectured at numerous law schools on labor and employment law, appellate advocacy, and legal ethics.  He is a frequent speaker on topics in his field and has written three books and published numerous articles on labor and employment law. 

 

Education

University of Michigan Law School

J.D., 1972, with Honors,

Order of the Coif

Northwestern University,  B.A.,1969

 

Admissions & Qualifications

New York

District of Columbia

Illinois


In today’s complex world of employment law, the legislative landscape is changing faster than ever before. Companies can easily veer out of compliance, and into financial and reputational dangers. To guide employers through this maze, Lisa Lupion offers a precise path forward. 

She begins by gathering an in-depth understanding of her client’s business and goals, and then evaluating the specific issue at hand, so that whether navigating a counseling issue or a complex litigation, she can understand every possible angle and design the best possible solution.

Lisa regularly litigates a broad range of employment issues in court, administrative agencies, and arbitration. Lisa also helps companies at all stages of development avoid litigation, or prevent a single-plaintiff matter from escalating to a class action. She has successfully handled a number of high-stakes arbitrations and internal investigations. In addition, she offers counseling on discrimination, harassment, equal pay, wage and hour issues, disability accommodations, termination and compensation.  Lisa regularly advises clients on a variety of employment-related issues, including human resources policies and procedures, offer letters, severance agreements and employee termination. 

Prior to joining Orrick, Lisa served as a law clerk to the Hon. Peter Leisure in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.