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A Better Partnership


May 2008
May 15, 2008

HR Focus - Spring 2008

Cleary Joins HR Group

Robert R. Cleary has joined the Labor and Employment Practice Group and brings with him more than 30 years of experience in labor and employment law.

In addition to his work with law firms in the Detroit market, he also spent more than a decade in-house handling employee relations and merger-acquisition work for a national property management firm. He will practice in Warner’s Southfield office.

Bob has a broad base in labor and employment law, including litigation, contract employees, discrimination, harassment, reductions in force, alternate dispute resolution, collective bargaining and related issues. Additionally, he has experience in mergers and acquisitions, construction contracts, management training and related areas. His clients come from a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, retail, transportation, property management, construction, education and others.

Bob is a charter member of the National Employment Mediation Service and is currently the president of the Board of Governors of the Country Club of Detroit and a board member of the Transportation Club of Detroit. He also served two terms on the board of the University of Notre Dame Alumni Association of Detroit and is a former member of the board of the Friends of Bon Secours Hospital.

Bob holds a bachelor of arts in liberal studies from the University of Notre Dame and a doctor of jurisprudence from the University of Detroit School of Law.

Bob can be reached by calling 248.784.5181 or by e-mail to

Lyon Becomes Member of EB Group


Warner Norcross & Judd’s Employee Benefits Group is welcoming a new member.

Heidi A. Lyon has five years of legal experience and practices primarily in the areas of employee benefits law and tax law. She is a member of the American Bar Association (tax section and joint committee on employee benefits), the State Bar of Michigan (tax section and employee benefits subcommittee) and the Grand Rapids Bar Association.

Heidi also serves as a member of the board of directors for the Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids. She is a member of the IRS Great Lakes Area Tax-Exempt and Governmental Entities Council and a board member of the Women Lawyers Association of Western Michigan.

She received a bachelor of arts, with distinction, in political science and psychology from the University of Michigan, and she received her law degree from the George Washington University Law School.

She can be reached by calling 616.752.2496 or by e-mail at

Mark Your Calendar

We hope to see you at our Human Resources Seminar.

Employers of Choice attract and retain the best talent. They offer leadership necessary – both institutionally and personally – to inspire employees. Employers of Choice offer employee benefits valued by their employees. For Employers of Choice, the employees play a key role in the mission and vision of the organization.

Is your organization known as an Employer of Choice?

Join us for a very interesting and interactive morning program as we identify the key elements needed to be an Employer of Choice. You will hear from our experts as well as see instant results from audience polling so you know how your organization matches up with other employers.

Our lunch program will look at the upcoming presidential and national elections. Attorneys from our Government Affairs Group will join us to provide "hot off the wire" information direct from the campaigns. We will review the potentially significant impact that proposed changes to employment laws could have on your organization.

Afternoon breakout sessions will provide updates on current legal topics.

This will be a full day of great information you are sure to find useful.

Please watch for a detailed schedule and registration information in late July. For now, we hope you mark your calendar and plan to join us.

September 11, 2008 | 8:00 am - 4:30 pm | DeVos Place

I Was Wondering

Q:  It is the culture of our organization to share "cares and concerns" via e-mail with the rest of the organization. For example, if an employee or their family member is having medical problems, having surgery, or has experienced a loss, we usually get a verbal okay from the employee to share the information and then send an e-mail out so that the rest of the group can keep that person in their thoughts and prayers. In regard to HIPAA Security—would you consider this information PHI? Or would it be related to employment and therefore not subject to HIPAA similar to FMLA paperwork?

A:  As long as the "cares and concerns" program is run independently of the health plan, it falls outside of HIPAA. HIPAA generally prohibits an employer from using health plan information for any other employer function, including a cares and concerns e-mail program. Thus, employees who administer the health plan cannot cull information from the health plan records for this kind of program. In order to avoid any appearance of wrongdoing, you should also try not to have the health plan employees involved in such a program.

Q:  An employee was "picked up" by the immigration authorities, who advised the company that his work authorization papers have not been valid for several years. When the employee filled out his I-9 he had all the appropriate papers and his Social Security number was verified by the SSA. Could the company be held liable in this situation?



A:  If an employer obtains the documentation required for Form I-9 it cannot be held responsible if the documentation was forged, unless the forgery was obvious. An employer need not "update" I-9 documents such as driver’s licenses or green cards. However, there are some types of work authorizations that expire on their face, and the employer must update these authorizations.

‘I Was Wondering’ gives readers an opportunity to ask questions of our HR attorneys. Not all questions will be answered publicly. To submit a question, please send it by e-mail to Sharon Sprague at Download PDF

NOTICE. Although we would like to hear from you, we cannot represent you until we know that doing so will not create a conflict of interest. Also, we cannot treat unsolicited information as confidential. Accordingly, please do not send us any information about any matter that may involve you until you receive a written statement from us that we represent you.

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