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2021 Human Resources and Employment Law Highlights

If 2020 was defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 saw the on-going effects of the pandemic settle in as organizations continued to grapple with the “new normal” and what it means for employees. Employers were faced with vaccination mandates; managing remote, hybrid, and on-site work; the continuous struggle to balance work and life during a global pandemic; and the need to embed diversity, equity, and inclusion into the fabric of organizational culture.

At EPS, we addressed many of the post-pandemic issues organizations continue to face. Specifically, we prepared employers to address COVID-19 retaliation claims, provided guidance on how to empower employees in hybrid work environments, and we implored employers to think through appearance polices that the pandemic may have rendered obsolete and to see any such policies as an opportunity for inclusion.

We tackled the pandemic’s effect on women, encouraged compassion within organizations during mental health crises that surged during the time period, and encouraged employers to understand that the impact of a strong diversity and inclusion program stretches well beyond EEO compliance with an exploration of the benefits of neurodiversity at work. Then we dug into the perennial topic of jerks, and provided guidance on how to manage employees who consistently exhibit belittling, condescending, and rude behavior.

During these unprecedented times, we remained focused on how to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts with our guidance on Achieving Inclusion in the “New Normal” and an exploration of the many forms of workplace bias. We also expanded and deepened our own Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts as our Director of Training and DEI Initiatives, Jessica Caspe, Esq., completed Northwestern University’s immersive 6-week course, Leading Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Jessica’s completion of the course allows her to expand her role with EPS and our commitment to collaborate with clients to facilitate honest, respectful, and challenging conversations about bias, diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organizations and communities. In addition, Jessica’s expanded role will allow us to not only deepen the content of our educational offerings, but also provide structured and ongoing guidance to organizations as they continue to refine their own diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, including developing DEI plans, climate assessments, training, and other metrics to help create more inclusive work environments.

We finish out our 25th year continuing our work with organizations to build cultures of respect while continuing to grow our core investigation, training, and consulting/expert services all while honing our ability to deliver our services virtually to meet the needs of our clients during these unprecedented times. We welcomed new leadership and expanded our corporate and consulting teams. As we look forward to the opportunities that the New Year will inevitably bring, we wish you and your team the very best in 2022.