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How to Be an Upstander: Intervening in Racism in the Legal Workplace

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Course Information

Time 60 Minutes
Difficulty Beginner

Course Description

Examples of discrimination and xenophobia happen every day, and in legal workplaces, these incidents can contribute to the lack of diversity in the profession. Sometimes attorneys are put in a position of hearing something discriminatory that makes them uncomfortable, but may be unsure about how to respond in the moment. It can be awkward to take action, and they may also be concerned about protecting their own employment. However, it is the responsibility of all attorneys to challenge racism in all of its forms, and dedicate resources toward helping dismantle systemic racism in the workplace - unintended or otherwise. 

This program, taught by Suzanne Cerra and Katherin Nukk-Freeman, will equip attorneys with the skills to identify potential racism at both individual and systemic levels, and will encourage them to speak up in response to those all too common “Did they really just say that?!” moments when bias emerges. 

This training will also illustrate the importance of committing to being an upstander in the face of racism, and strategies to proactively and professionally speak out against racism in an effort to foster a better workplace culture for all. By empowering legal professionals to take positive action steps in moments when bias manifests (even at the unconscious level), leaders at law firms and other legal organizations can transform workplace cultures into environments that are inclusive, equitable, and affirming for all employees.  



Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify instances of bias in the legal workplace, and respond effectively
  2. Discuss the responsibility of leaders in the legal profession to cultivate an atmosphere that discourages bias and encourages upstanders to act
  3. Cultivate the skills attorneys need to intervene in racist incidents in the workplace 


Credit Information

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Faculty

Suzanne M. Cerra

Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, P.C.

Suzanne M. Cerra has devoted her legal career to representing employers in all aspects of employment law, including discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination matters. She also has extensive experience in matters involving the enforcement of restrictive covenants and the protection of trade secrets and confidential information. Ms. Cerra has represented hundreds of clients in state and federal court proceedings, arbitration proceedings, and before administrative agencies such as the EEOC, the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights and the New York Human Rights Division.

She also has extensive experience providing compliance counseling to her clients regarding all state and federal employment laws and assisting clients with issues relating to discrimination, harassment, leaves of absence, wrongful discharge, wage and hour laws, restrictive covenants and unfair competition.  Ms. Cerra is called upon regularly by her peers to conduct internal investigations into claims of unlawful harassment, discrimination and other allegations of workplace misconduct.


Professional Experience

Law Office of Suzanne M. Cerra, Basking Ridge, NJ, Founder and Principal

2003 – 2006

Stanton, Hughes, Diana, Cerra, Mariani & Margello, P.C., Morristown, NJ (now Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stuart), Partner

1997 – 2003

Stanton, Hughes, Diana, Cerra, Mariani & Margello, P.C., Morristown, NJ (now Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stuart), Associate

1995 – 1997

Shanley & Fisher, P.C., Morristown, NJ, Associate

1993 – 1995

Graduate, Trial Advocacy College at the University of Virginia Law School

1999


Professional Activities

New Jersey Women Lawyers Association
President, 2013 - 2014
President Elect, 2012 - 2013
Vice President, 2011 - 2012
Chief Financial Officer, 2010 - 2011

President, 2013 - 2014 President Elect, 2012 - 2013 Vice President, 2011 - 2012 Chief Financial Officer, 2010 - 2011

New Jersey Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section, Executive Committee

2003 - Present

NJSBA Labor and Employment Law Quarterly, Editorial Board

2003 - Present

The Park Avenue Club, Board of Directors

2014 - Present

Entrepreneur’s Organization, New Jersey Chapter, Board of Directors

2009 - 2013

Academy of New Jersey Management Attorneys, Member

2014 - Present


Education

Boston College Law School
J.D., magna cum laude and Order of the Coif

1993

Bucknell University
B.S., cum laude

1990


Admissions

State of New Jersey

1993

United States District Court for the District of New Jersey

1993


Civic/Charitable Activities

Park Avenue Club, Board of Trustees, 2014 – Present

New Jersey Women Lawyers Association, Past President, 2014

Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, “Power of the Promise” Fundraising Committee, Past Member

Recent Publications and Speaking Engagements


Speaking Engagements

“Battling the Bully:  My Way or the Highway”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC Hot Topics in Employment Law Seminar, November 2019

“Legislative & Strategic Trends in the Aftermath of the ‘Me Too’ Movement”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC Hot Topics in Employment Law Seminar, November 2018

“New York State and New York City Anti-Harassment Legislation: Here is What You Need to Know”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC, Webinar, May 2018

“The UBER Nightmare, a Harassment and Discrimination Horror Story”, presented to the NJ Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, Basking Ridge, NJ, April 2018

“From Hiring to Firing and Everything in Between”, presented to the YPO Forum, Chatham, NJ, December 2017

“Salary History Bans – What is Prohibited and How Do You Comply?”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC Webinar, December 2017

“Effective Internal Investigations”, CLE Presentation to Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ Legal Department, November 2017

“An Employment Law Horror Story, Dissecting the UBER Nightmare”, Presented at Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC Hot Topics in Employment Law Seminar, November 2017

“Salary History Bans – What is Prohibited and How Do You Comply?”, Presented at Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC In-House Counsel Lunch, New York City, October 2017

“Practical Tips for the Next Generation of Female Lawyers”, Presented at the NJSBA Annual Conference, The Borgata Hotel, Atlantic City, May 2017

“The Attorney-Client Privilege in the In-House Setting”, Presentation to Goldman Sachs Legal Department, February, 2017

“Diversity and Inclusion: Shaping an Ethical Practice”, Seton Hall Law, The Newark Club, February 2017

“Lawyers to Leaders”, Presentation to UPS Legal Department, January 2017

“Making Lemonade Out of Lemons – Turning to ADR to Resolve Employment Disputes”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, First Annual CLE Day Panel Presentation, The Newark Club, January 2017

“Restrictive Covenants that Will Hold Up in Court”, Presentation to Katsy Korins LLC, January 2017

“Are You Prepared for the DOL’s New Overtime Rules?”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC Hot Topics in Employment Law Round Table, November 2016

New Overtime Regulations, What Should Employers Do to Prepare, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC Webinar, August 2016

“When the Threat of Litigation Looms, How Can Employers Protect Themselves?”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC Hot Topics in Employment Law Round Table, November 2015

“How to Deal with a Difficult Adversary in an Ethical and Professional Manner”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC Presentation, August 2015

“Successful Law Firm Management: Dealing with the Question of Compensation”, presented by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, December 2014

“The High Price of Misclassification: Are you Properly Classifying Interns and Volunteers?”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC Webinar, May 2014

“The High Price of Misclassification: Are You Properly Classifying Interns and Volunteers?”, presented by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, January 2014

“Workplace Investigations”, presented to the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, November, 2013

“Professional & Ethical Implications of Gender Bias in the Practice of Law”, presented to the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association and the Essex County Bar Foundation, October 2013

“In-House Counsel and the Attorney Client Privilege”, presented by Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC, October 2013

“Bring Your Own Device Movement”, presented at the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) Business Meeting, February 2013

“Properly Classifying Temps, Interns, Independent Contractors & Volunteers”, presented at the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) Annual Meeting, September 2011

“Navigating the Social Media Minefield”, presented by Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC, June 2011

“Round Table Discussion on Social Media”, American Express Open, July 2010

“The Pitfalls of Social Media in the Workplace”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC Webinar, July 2010

“Conducting Effective Workplace Investigations”, presented to ASIS International, New Jersey Chapter, June 2010

“How Social Media and Networking Websites and Technology Are Changing the Employment Landscape”, presented at the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting, Labor & Employment Section, May 2010

“The Costliest Mistakes Made by Employers: What You Have to do to Protect Your Business”, presented to the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, November 2009


Publications

“Achieving Balance: Suzanne M. Cerra and Katherin Nukk-Freeman Reveal How a Flexible, Team-Based Business Model Benefits Fee-Earners and Clients”, Managing Partner Magazine (Volume 15 Issue 2; October, 2013), Co-Authored with Katherin Nukk-Freeman, Esq.

“Monitoring Electronic Communications and Social Media Usage in the Workplace:  What are the Limits?”,  New Jersey Labor and Employment Law Quarterly (Volume 32, No. 2), Co-Authored with Galit Kierkut, Esq.

“COBRA Subsidies Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: How Will They Impact Businesses?”, New Jersey Defense (Volume 25, Issue 2; Spring, 2009), Co-Authored with Katherin Nukk-Freeman, Esq.

“We Can Have it All”, New Jersey Women Lawyers’ Association Gala Journal (April, 2009), Co-Authored with Katherin Nukk-Freeman, Esq.

“Elements of an Effective Harassment Investigation”, New Jersey Labor and Employment Law Quarterly (Winter, 2007)




Katherin Nukk-Freeman

Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, P.C.

Katherin Nukk-Freeman is the co-founder of Nukk-Freeman & Cerra PC. Leveraging more than 20 years of success as a trusted advisor to corporate leaders, Katherin enables companies to proactively address and effectively manage workplace issues related to harassment and discrimination complaints, unconscious bias, disability and leave law, wage and hour disputes, social media risks, staff reductions in force, and high-risk terminations. Katherin works with human resources management professionals providing expert guidance and instruction enabling them to better manage and proactively address their training programs and many other employment law issues thereby avoiding costly litigation for their companies.

As a dynamic employment law training instructor and industry thought leader, Katherin partners with clients to develop and implement strategies to manage risk, comply with the law, increase productivity and create an overall better workplace. Katherin is a frequent presenter on employment law issues and has authored countless articles on current employment law “hot topics”. As a champion for forward-looking employment law solutions, Katherin is considered the industry leader on the subject of addressing “Unconscious Bias” in the workplace.

 

Professional Activities

ConnectOne Bancorp, Inc., Board of Directors

2018 - Present

C200 Protege Program, Member

2014 - Present

National Association of Minority and Women-Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF)

2009 - Present

Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, Advisory Board Member

2009 – Present

Women Presidents' Organization

2002 – Present

Women Presidents' Organization, Platinum membership

2002 - Present

Executive Committee, Labor and Employment Law Section of the New Jersey Bar Association

2010 - 2017

Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey, Board of Directors

2013 - 2016

New York Society of Security Analysts, Board of Directors

2010 - 2014

Board of Trustees, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Human Resources Committee

2004 - 2010

The Healthcare Marketing & Communications Council, General Counsel to Board of Trustees

2005 - 2009

Board of Trustees, The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; Human Resources Committee

1999- 2008


Professional Experience

Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione, PC., Newark, NJ
Partner

2000 – 2006

Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione, PC., Newark, NJ
Associate

1996 – 2000

Downey, Brand, Seymour and Rohwer, Sacramento, CA
Associate

1993 – 1996


Education

Boston College Law School
J.D.

1993

Pennsylvania State University
B.S., Dual Major: Finance & Accounting, Honors
University Scholars Program

1990

Admissions

State of California

1993

United States District Court for the Eastern District of California

1993

State of New Jersey

1996

United States District Court for the District of New Jersey

1996


Civic & Charitable Activities

Board of Trustees, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Parliamentarian and Human Resources Committee

2004 - 2010


Speaking Engagements

“Best Practices on Managing Your Multi-generational Workforce”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC Hot Topics in Employment Law Seminar, November 2019

“Artificial Intelligence & Unconscious Bias”, Prudential MWOLF Conference, November 2019

“Connecting Diversity & Inclusion Goals to Executive Compensation”, NJ Association of Corporate Counsel, September 2019

“Legislative & Strategic Trends in the Aftermath of the ‘Me Too’ Movement”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC, 2018 Hot Topics in Employment Law Seminar, Panel Presentation, November 2018

“New York State and New York City Anti-Harassment Legislation: Here is What You Need to Know”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC, Webinar, October 2018

“Building Emotional Intelligence with Great Communication”, Association of Corporate Counsel New Jersey, Annual All Day CLE Conference, September 2018

“From Policies to Practice, Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC, CLE Day, January 2018

“Sexual Harassment: Lessons Learned from Scandals & Strategies to Mitigate Risk”, Get5, January 2018

“Staring Down Stereotypes: Essential Tactics to Combat Unconscious Bias in the Workplace”, presented by NFP and MetLife, New York, NY, December 2017

“Whose Responsibility is Diversity & Inclusion in the Legal Profession?”, Panel Presentation to the the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession, Morgan Stanley, October 2017

“Strategies to Combat Unconscious Bias in the Workplace: Why Raising Awareness is Not Enough”, HR Star Conference, San Francisco, July 2017

“Essential Tactics to Combat Unconscious Bias in the Workplace”, HR Star Conference, Los Angeles, 2017

“Sexual Harassment & Bystander Intervention”, Panelist, EEOC New York District Seminar, June 2017

“Essential Tactics to Combat Unconscious Bias in the Workplace”, HR Star Conference, San Francisco, 2016

“Beyond the Bathroom: Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace”, presented at Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC Hot Topics in Employment Law Round Table, November 2016

“Beyond the Bathroom: Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace”, presented at Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC In-House Counsel Lunch Seminar, October 2016

“Essential Tactics to Combat Unconscious Bias in the Workplace”, presented to Bank of America, Legal Department, June 2016

“The Americans with Disabilities Act: How to Avoid the 5 Most Common Compliance Challenges”, Webinar, presented by the NAMWOLF Labor & Employment Practice Area Committee, April 2016

“Are Your Hiring Practices Creating Costly Turnover?”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC Webinar, February 2016

“Essential Tactics to Combat Unconscious Bias in the Workplace”, presented to Panasonic North America, February 2016

“Essential Tactics to Combat Unconscious Bias in the Workplace”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC Hot Topics in Employment Law Round Table, November 2015

“2015 Overview of the Most Signicant Judicial Decisions & Legislative Updates of 2015”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC Hot Topics in Employment Law Seminar, November 2015

“Background Checks Ensuring that Your Policies and Processes Comply”, New Jersey Law Journal CLE Day, Florham Park, NJ, March 2015

“This Year’s Top Trends Every HR Professional Should Know”, SHIFT HR Executive Briefing, New York, NY, 2015

“3 Important Strategies to Combat Unconscious Bias in the Workplace”, Garden State Council, Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference, Atlantic City, NJ, 2015

“Essential Tactics to Combat Unconscious Bias in the Workplace”, SHIFT Compliance Training Webinar, 2015

“Staying Out of the Limelight:  Essential Tactics to Combat Unconscious Bias in the Workplace”, SHIFT HR Executive Briefing, New York, NY, 2015

“Legal Issues Surrounding Background Checks and Workplace Violence”, Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey, 2015

“Incivility in the Legal Profession”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, PC In-House Counsel Round Table, October 2014

“Labor and Employment Law Update”, New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education Business Law Symposium, 2014

“Conducting Effective Workplace Investigations”, Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, P.C. Webinar Presentation, 2014

“Social Media and Workplace Harassment Issues”, New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, 2014

“Navigating Your Career: Learning to Elevate Your Personal Brand”, Presented to Ernst & Young Professional Women’s Network, 2013

“What Keeps You Up At Night? The Costliest Employment Mistakes That Businesses Make”, Metropolitan Transportation Association Employment Law, 2011

“Special Issues Regarding Protected Characteristics: Hostile Work Environment And Disability Discrimination Claims”, New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, 2011

“Monitoring Employee Electronic Communications in the Workplace”, New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, 2010

“24 Karat: Setting the Gold Standard”, Tri-State Human Resources Management Association, Annual Conference, 2010

“Career Transitions: Exploring New Pathways to Success”, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, Executive Women’s Breakfast, 2009

“The Costliest Mistakes Made by Employers: What You Have to do to Protect your Business”, New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, 2009

“Workplace Reorganizations: Reduce Your Risks of Wrongful Termination Claims with Carefully Structured Workplace Reorganizations”, Women Presidents’ Organization Webinar, 2009

“The Seven Costliest Employment Mistakes: What YOU Must Do to Protect and Sustain Your Business!”, Women Presidents’ Organization, 12th Annual Conference, San Diego, CA, 2009

“New Jersey Paid Family Leave: What it Means for Your Firm and Your Clients”, New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education Webinar, 2008

“Paid Family Leave Briefing”, New Jersey Business & Industry Association, 2008

“10 Most Common Mistakes Employers Make and How to Avoid Them”, Women Presidents’ Organization, 2008

“Leveraging Contacts, Negotiating Contracts”, Pfizer-sponsored Women Presidents’ Educational Organization, 2007

“10 Most Common Mistakes Employers Make and How to Avoid Them”, Chubb-sponsored Women Presidents’ Organization Event, 2007

“HR101: A Primer for Managing Human Resources”, New Jersey Business and Industry Association, 2007

“Labor & Employment Law Summer Institute”, New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education, 2006

“Hiring & Firing, Putting the Legal Pieces Together”, New Jersey Business & Industry Association’s Seminar for Employers, 2005

“Hot Legal Topics for Employers”, New Jersey Business & Industry Association, 2005


Publications

Quoted in “It’s Not Always Clear What Constitutes Sexual Harassment. Use this Tool to Navigate the Gray Areas”, Harvard Business Review, June 19 2018.

Quoted in “Female Employment Lawyers Find Edge in Starting Own Firms“, Bloomberg BNA, Business of Law Feature, June 29, 2017.

Achieving Balance: Suzanne M. Cerra and Katherin Nukk-Freeman Reveal How a Flexible, Team-Based Business Model Benefits Fee-Earners and Clients“, co-authored with Suzanne M. Cerra, Esq, Managing Partner Magazine (Volume 15 Issue 2), 2012

“COBRA Subsidies Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: How Will They Impact Businesses?”, co-authored with Suzanne M. Cerra, Esq., New Jersey Defense (Volume 25, Issue 2), 2009

“We Can Have it All”, New Jersey Women Lawyer’s Association Gala Journal, co-authored with Suzanne M. Cerra, Esq., 2009

“FMLA Violations – Do Your Merit Increase and Bonus Plans Comply?”, The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, 2005

“Some States Mandate Harassment Training. A Sign of Things to Come for New Jersey Employers?”, Bollinger Solutions, 2005