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Experts Discuss Employment Law, Cybersecurity, and Social Media at ANSI’s Legal Issues Forum


Legal experts and other members of the standards and conformity assessment community gathered on October 27, in Washington, DC, for the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) Legal Issues Forum, held on an annual basis as part of the World Standards Week series of events.

For the first time, the annual Legal Issues Forum was free of charge to ANSI members, and attendees will receive continuing legal education (CLE) certificates, as the forum recently received CLE accreditation from the State of New Jersey.

ANSI’s president and CEO Joe Bhatia provided opening remarks for the event, entitled “Nuts and Bolts Business Issues,” with moderated panels featured sessions on employment law, cybersecurity and social media. Over 85 ANSI members and interested stakeholders including those from government, industry, business, consumer groups, and academia registered to attend this event and share their perspectives, insights, and expertise.

Employment Law

Moderator Claire Ramspeck of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) led the employment law panel discussions, which included panelists Elizabeth Hook of Braxton Hook, Nancy Van der Veer Holt of FordHarrison, Doug Mishkin of Venable, and Michael Puma of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

The session covered best practices in discrimination law, the latest thinking on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Some emerging issues included best practices in discrimination law, including disability, and sexual orientation— LGBT rights, for example. Other topics included avoiding the pitfalls of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) wage and hour laws, best practices involving employee-at-will, hiring, disciplining, and firing, and employee-related privacy issues and records retention, especially with respect to metadata. The panelists also discussed writing legally sound policies, procedures and employee handbooks.

Panelists cautioned that annual training on employment law is critical, especially for those in a management role. And of particular interest to standards developing organizations (SDOs) – where staff works alongside volunteers and members – panelists reinforced that organizations have an obligation to protect their employees from discrimination and harassment, whether that comes from a staff member, volunteer, contractor, intern, or customer.

Mishkin also distributed his several of his articles, including “What Employers Must Know About Metadata, and Why: Destroying Metadata. Destroying Evidence and Paving the Road to Sanctions” (Part IV), emphasizing that businesses cannot ensure proprietary protection from if employers and colleagues do not understand how to use metadata.


As studies show that cyberattacks remain a threat to business, security is the forefront of business priorities. Larry Clinton of the Internet Security Alliance (ISA) moderated the cybersecurity panel, which included experts Allison Bender of Hogan Lovells, Ezra Church of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Nick Oldham of King & Spalding, and Randy Sabett of Cooley.

Panelists spoke about how to respond to a data breach, best practices to reduce cyber risks, and the role of insurance in mitigating cybersecurity risks. The group described that cybersecurity is as big a challenge as ever – with 2016 slated to be a record year for data breaches. The panelists also described the importance of understanding the motivations of a cyber attacker, and if possible, establishing their identity. This information is helpful in determining if the event is a one-off, or is likely to continue in some form.

Social Media

Social media has become an integral part of the way businesses—from small firms to large corporations—communicate with their customers and key stakeholders. Moderator Lorraine Carli of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) led the social media panel discussion. This group covered common legal challenges when engaging consumers through social media including sweepstakes, contests, blogs, and other promotions; disclosure of confidential, copyright protected or trademark-protected information; defamation and violating the privacy or publicity rights of others; writing a strong social media policy [and designating one or two social media leaders who are educated on this policy]; working with influencers; and real-time marketing.

Panelists included Rose Auslander of Carter Ledyard, Jerry Ferguson of Baker Hostetler, Gonzalo Mon of Kelley Drye, and A.J. Zottola of Venable.

A Legal Issues Forum photo gallery is also available.

World Standards Week, held this year from October 24-28, is an annual event where members of the standards and conformity assessment community come together in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration. For more information, including registration for other WSW events and details on all meetings and conferences, visit