Shutt presents seminar to Columbia Society for Human Resource Management

Was it an innocent joke meant to lighten the work day or a comment that created a hostile work environment? Sometimes the answer depends on the perspective.

Employment lawyer Nekki Shutt spoke from the plaintiff’s perspective today at the annual conference of Columbia Society for Human Resource Management. She covered a range of employment law points during her seminar, including classics such as overtime pay and employee handbooks. Shutt also will discuss evolving issues such as gender identity in the workplace and employee misclassification.

Her presentation focused on how employees, and often the law, see problems a company might overlook. A certified South Carolina employment law specialist who began her career in a corporate human resources department, Shutt can discuss many workplace issues from two perspectives.

For example, South Carolina is an “at will” employment state, meaning that management can fire people for a good reason, bad reason or no reason. But – and this is a big but – state and federal law also prohibit discrimination based on race, religion, age, color, sex, national origin or disability.

If a court finds that discrimination was a factor in a firing, the company could be headed for an expensive settlement.

In the case of a business that uses independent contractors instead of hiring employees who are eligible for benefits, are workers really contractors if they wear a shirt with a company logo, are issued a phone and a computer and supervised on the job site? If a company guesses wrong, it can wind up paying a substantial amount in back pay and benefits.

About Nekki Shutt

Shutt has presented at the seminar, which draws more than 200 human resource professionals annually, most years since 2006. A co-founder of Burnette Shutt and McDaniel in Columbia, South Carolina, practice focuses on civil litigation with an emphasis on employee benefits under ERISA. This can include pension and health plans, life insurance, disability and more.