Skip to Main Content

Karen J.
VanderWerff

  • Partner

My advice to an employer has to be more than simply “correct” according to the letter of the law. It also has to take into account numerous other factors, including the human element – a company’s comfort level with implementing legal advice that may look perfectly good on paper but still isn’t a good fit. I take the time to learn and understand our clients, so that I can give them practical, actionable options.  

Karen VanderWerff focuses her practice on employment and occupational health and safety (OSHA) law. She counsels employers, large and small, on labor and policy matters – including state and federal health and safety compliance, charges of discrimination and employee misconduct. A former forensic scientist, Karen also has unique experience assisting businesses that have experienced a catastrophic or fatal event, and in conducting workplace investigations in the event of alleged harassment or discrimination. 

  • Investigated and successfully mitigated liability in numerous workplace catastrophes, including explosions, fatalities and release of hazardous substances.
  • Leads clients through post-catastrophe interactions with federal, state and local government agencies, including National Transportation Safety Board, Michigan State Police, Michigan Department of Consumer and Industry Services, local police and fire departments and others.
  • Conducts internal investigations and handles personnel issues in post-catastrophe phase; directs media interaction.
  • Audits safety and health programs of employers with goal of increased worker safety, decreased workers’ compensation costs and minimal citation exposure.
  • Drafts policies to comply with
  • Investigated and successfully mitigated liability in numerous workplace catastrophes, including explosions, fatalities and release of hazardous substances.
  • Leads clients through post-catastrophe interactions with federal, state and local government agencies, including National Transportation Safety Board, Michigan State Police, Michigan Department of Consumer and Industry Services, local police and fire departments and others.
  • Conducts internal investigations and handles personnel issues in post-catastrophe phase; directs media interaction.
  • Audits safety and health programs of employers with goal of increased worker safety, decreased workers’ compensation costs and minimal citation exposure.
  • Drafts policies to comply with state and federal OSHA laws.
  • Successfully represents employers in complaints filed with government agencies and boards, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, National Labor Relations Board, Department of Civil Rights, Consumer and Industry Services, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, etc.
  • Testified as an expert in ballistics with Illinois State Police (1983-1990).
  • “New Twists on Some Old Issues: Discrimination, Retaliation, Harassment, Hiring and Wage & Hour Compliance,” Warner 2022 HR Seminar In-Person Event, May 4, 2022, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • What Employers Need to Know About the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard,” Warner Webinar, November 10, 2021
  • Legal Developments in Human Resources,” Association for Human Resources Management Panel, November 10, 2021, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Employment Law Issues for Marijuana Businesses: Top 10 Tips to Minimize Employment Risks,” Cannabis Law Seminar – Industry Insights and Trends From the Legal Perspective, September 30, 2021, Lansing, Michigan
  • New COVID-19 Rules and Requirements for Michigan Employers,” Warner Webinar, November 10, 2020
  • COVID-19 and MiOSHA,” Warner 2020 HR Executive Panel, October 7, 2020
  • Labor and Employment Update: Preparing the Facility for Operations after COVID-19,” Warner Webinar, April 29, 2020
  • “Labor and Emloyment Panel,” Warner 2019 HR Executive Panels, September 13, 2019, Traverse City, Michigan
  • “Recreational Marijuana and Drugs in the Workplace,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 7, 2019, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • “Labor and Employment Panel, Warner 2018 HR Executive Panels, September 20, 2018, Traverse City, Michigan
  • “Myth or Truth: Labor & Employment Panel,” Warner Labor & Benefits Executive Panels, November 17, 2017, Traverse City, Michigan
  • “Safety & OSHA Issues,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 23, 2017, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • “Managing an Evolving Workforce” and “Wage/Hour and FLSA Issues,” Warner Labor & Benefits Executive Panel, October 21, 2016, Traverse City, Michigan
  • “Workplace Investigations,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, June 9, 2016, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Labor & Benefits Executive Panel, Warner Seminar, October 7, 2014, Midland, Michigan
  • “EEOC Cracking Down on Discrimination,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, April 20, 2015, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Labor and Employment Panel, Labor and Benefits Executive Panel-Government Enforcement Initiatives, September 23, 2014, Midland, Michigan
  • “Workplace Investigations,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, April 22, 2014
  • “HR and Benefits Executive Panel,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, Midland, Michigan, October 9, 2013, and Birmingham, Michigan, October 15, 2013
  • “Performance Reviews,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, April 29, 2013
  • “Even Paranoids have Real Enemies:  How Government Agencies Are Targeting Employers,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 2, 2012
  • “OSHA, Workplace Safety, Health and Security,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 25, 2011
  • “Impact of the ADA Amendments Act,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, March 23, 2010
  • “Employer by Choice – Personal and Institutional Leadership,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, September 11, 2008
  • “CSI: HR Management in Crisis Management,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 10, 2007
  • Develops training materials and provides training sessions to managers and supervisors on harassment, drug and alcohol awareness and health and safety issues
  • Develops training materials and provides training sessions to managers and supervisors on harassment, drug and alcohol awareness and health and safety issues
Image for Karen J. VanderWerff

Karen J.
VanderWerff

  • Partner
Grand Rapids

My admin

My advice to an employer has to be more than simply “correct” according to the letter of the law. It also has to take into account numerous other factors, including the human element – a company’s comfort level with implementing legal advice that may look perfectly good on paper but still isn’t a good fit. I take the time to learn and understand our clients, so that I can give them practical, actionable options.  

Karen VanderWerff focuses her practice on employment and occupational health and safety (OSHA) law. She counsels employers, large and small, on labor and policy matters – including state and federal health and safety compliance, charges of discrimination and employee misconduct. A former forensic scientist, Karen also has unique experience assisting businesses that have experienced a catastrophic or fatal event, and in conducting workplace investigations in the event of alleged harassment or discrimination. 

  • “New Twists on Some Old Issues: Discrimination, Retaliation, Harassment, Hiring and Wage & Hour Compliance,” Warner 2022 HR Seminar In-Person Event, May 4, 2022, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • What Employers Need to Know About the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard,” Warner Webinar, November 10, 2021
  • Legal Developments in Human Resources,” Association for Human Resources Management Panel, November 10, 2021, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Employment Law Issues for Marijuana Businesses: Top 10 Tips to Minimize Employment Risks,” Cannabis Law Seminar – Industry Insights and Trends From the Legal Perspective, September 30, 2021, Lansing, Michigan
  • New COVID-19 Rules and Requirements for Michigan Employers,” Warner Webinar, November 10, 2020
  • COVID-19 and MiOSHA,” Warner 2020 HR Executive Panel, October 7, 2020
  • Labor and Employment Update: Preparing the Facility for Operations after COVID-19,” Warner Webinar, April 29, 2020
  • “Labor and Emloyment Panel,” Warner 2019 HR Executive Panels, September 13, 2019, Traverse City, Michigan
  • “Recreational Marijuana and Drugs in the Workplace,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 7, 2019, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • “Labor and Employment Panel, Warner 2018 HR Executive Panels, September 20, 2018, Traverse City, Michigan
  • “Myth or Truth: Labor & Employment Panel,” Warner Labor & Benefits Executive Panels, November 17, 2017, Traverse City, Michigan
  • “Safety & OSHA Issues,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 23, 2017, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • “Managing an Evolving Workforce” and “Wage/Hour and FLSA Issues,” Warner Labor & Benefits Executive Panel, October 21, 2016, Traverse City, Michigan
  • “Workplace Investigations,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, June 9, 2016, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Labor & Benefits Executive Panel, Warner Seminar, October 7, 2014, Midland, Michigan
  • “EEOC Cracking Down on Discrimination,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, April 20, 2015, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Labor and Employment Panel, Labor and Benefits Executive Panel-Government Enforcement Initiatives, September 23, 2014, Midland, Michigan
  • “Workplace Investigations,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, April 22, 2014
  • “HR and Benefits Executive Panel,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, Midland, Michigan, October 9, 2013, and Birmingham, Michigan, October 15, 2013
  • “Performance Reviews,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, April 29, 2013
  • “Even Paranoids have Real Enemies:  How Government Agencies Are Targeting Employers,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 2, 2012
  • “OSHA, Workplace Safety, Health and Security,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 25, 2011
  • “Impact of the ADA Amendments Act,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, March 23, 2010
  • “Employer by Choice – Personal and Institutional Leadership,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, September 11, 2008
  • “CSI: HR Management in Crisis Management,” Warner Human Resources Seminar, May 10, 2007
  • Develops training materials and provides training sessions to managers and supervisors on harassment, drug and alcohol awareness and health and safety issues
  • Develops training materials and provides training sessions to managers and supervisors on harassment, drug and alcohol awareness and health and safety issues