Message from the Chair
So, I wrote my Chair’s welcome note, and it talked all about the end of the pandemic and getting things back to some semblance of normal. And then Delta. As a former Atlanta resident, the word Delta has generally meant good things: dependable and thorough. Sadly, the Delta we are dealing with now is also dependable and thorough. Just in a bad way. Consequently, some of my enthusiasm is somewhat tempered by the reality that we are not completely “out of the woods” yet. On many levels, things are a lot better than last year, when we had no vaccine. But it hasn’t gone away.
My message therefore is to thank each of you for all your efforts over the past year and a half. The pandemic has made all of us learn, analyze, and advise on new laws on the fly. We have tracked CDC, OSHA, EEOC, and Treasury websites to stay abreast. We have advised employers and employees of their rights and obligations. We have been in uncharted territory, frequently advising on matters that have no administrative or court opinions. We truly have been counselors at law. Let’s keep it up.
I’ve been doing this job a long time. And I’m always learning. After graduating from UF Law in the 1990s, I joined a management-side labor and employment firm in Atlanta. I remember walking over to the 11th Circuit to grab the slip ops of new cases so the firm could keep track of every published Title VII case. When doing traditional labor law, I learned that I could find an opinion to support just about anything I wanted to argue. I just had to look during the appropriate Republican presidential administration.
Then when I created my own firm in 2005 and opened an office in Fort Myers a few years later, I took both management and plaintiff-side cases. I learned a lot by taking cases from the plaintiff’s side. It definitely gave me a different perspective on employment law.
I joined a fairly large firm (70 lawyers) a couple of years ago. So I’m back to mostly management cases (when I’m not mediating). But I continue to learn. I work with a much larger group of lawyers on a daily basis now, and we bounce ideas off of each other. Not all of those folks are straight-on employment lawyers. Some are mostly corporate or benefits people, but they wander into our sphere because, let’s face it, we overlap with a lot of practice areas. The advice and insights I get from them are invaluable. Likewise, I still reach out to my plaintiff-side compadres and get their perspective on legal issues from time to time, and vice versa. It’s good for the mind and soul.
When I started working with the Section’s Executive Council to get events scheduled for this Bar year, I thought we would be in a mask-free world again. Hence, in addition to free Zoom webinars (there is one at noon on Monday, September 13th, entitled “ADA: Mandatory Vaccines and Long-COVID as a Disability” that you can register for here, and one on September 29th entitled “OSHA and ETS Standard and COVID-19 Workplace Safety”), we have plenty of in-person CLEs and social activities scheduled. We are going to move forward with them unless things go completely south, but we will be taking appropriate precautions. In other words, we are going to implement some of the knowledge we learned and imparted to our clients. So, please plan on joining us for PELRF on October 14-15 in Orlando at the Rosen Plaza. You can register for it here. We even have a trip to Washington, D.C., scheduled for the spring, with a CLE included. Thanks for all you do. Hope to see you again soon.
Scott E. Atwood, Chair
Labor and Employment Law Section