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Employment Law: An Entertainment Industry Perspective

Total Credits
1 - 1.2
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A raft of common employment practices are now putting media and entertainment companies at risk. For example, incorrect classification of interns, volunteers, independent contractors, and full-time workers have all recently led to big legal headaches for small, mid-size, and even larger companies. Similarly, missteps in grants of equity to employees are leading to nasty tax consequences for employers and employees, souring relationships. Listen as two experienced employment lawyers review recent trends and identify traps every employer in the media and entertainment industries can avoid.

Topics include:

  • Misclassification of employees as something other than employees
  • Tests for distinguishing independent contractors, interns, and volunteers
  • Misclassification of “exempt” employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Real examples that don’t fit within the rules
  • Granting equity to new partners
  • How to avoid big tax problems
  • Responding to audits

Lecturer Bios

Gavin D. McElroy, Esq.

Gavin D. McElroy is a partner in the Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations Group at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz. He has been at the Firm since 1987.

Mr. McElroy represents advertising agencies and media-related businesses on corporate, transactional, advertising, employment, intellectual property, and mergers and acquisitions issues. He represents both emerging and established companies in the marketing services, entertainment, and media businesses.

Mr. McElroy is co-chair of the Corporate and Finance Group. He advises clients on preparation for potential sales, mergers and acquisitions, employment and compensation matters, equity and ownership issues, bringing partners in and out of companies, and buy-sell arrangements. He helps businesses protect and exploit intellectual property in and across all media. In addition, Mr. McElroy assists with strategic planning, and helps clients adapt their business models to the ever-changing legal, regulatory, and technological landscape.

Mr. McElroy also chairs the Firm’s Executive Compensation and Employment Group. He practices all aspects of employment law, regularly representing both businesses and executives in negotiating employment and severance agreements, implementing compensation, bonus and equity plans, drafting employment policies, and resolving discrimination claims.

The 2011 Legal 500 lists Mr. McElroy among the nation’s leading media and technology lawyers, praising his negotiation skills. And the 2009 Chambers USA America's Leading Lawyers for Business praised Mr. McElroy for his handling of corporate restructuring and mergers and acquisitions work for agencies. Mr. McElroy lectures for the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Conference Board, Brooklyn Enterprise on Science & Technology at Polytechnic University, Marcus Evans Practice Forum, Gotham Media Ventures, NorthStar Conferences, and other business organizations.

Mr. McElroy has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Advertising Age, Adweek, The Newark Star Ledger, and other trade publications on advertising, media and employment issues. He has written for O’Dwyer’s PR Reports and Mr. McElroy is a graduate of Providence College (BA, magna cum laude, 1982) and St. John’s University School of Law (JD, cum laude, 1985).

Wendy Stryker, Esq.

Wendy Stryker is counsel to the Employment and Litigation Groups at Frankfurt Kurnit. She represents marketing services agencies, media companies, tech startups, and other sophisticated corporations and individual executives in New York State and Federal courts and before administrative agencies and self-regulatory organizations.

Ms. Stryker effectively plays the role of outside general counsel. She has extensive experience guiding media, advertising and publishing clients through sensitive matters, including hostile work environment claims, use of freelancers, and the application of child labor laws to child actors and models. She advises on a wide variety of day-to-day employment issues as they arise, including discrimination, employee classification, wage and hour, employee discipline, employee use of social media, background checks, interview questions, identity and work authorization issues, and requests for accommodations. She regularly performs on-site training for client staff and reviews and drafts agreements and policies, including handbooks, offer letters, nondisclosure agreements, restrictive covenants, and employment and severance agreements.

Ms. Stryker has also successfully handled litigation and administrative proceedings for executives and some of the world’s best-known marketing services agencies and sophisticated corporations. She recently settled — promptly and on good terms — a sex discrimination case brought by a former creative director against one of the world’s most famous advertising agencies. Her recent work also includes successfully defending an international company with offices in 20 states against employment-related allegations including age discrimination, disability discrimination, and sexual harassment, and successfully defending various employers against claims alleging breaches of restrictive covenants. Ms. Stryker has been interviewed by Forbes, Variety magazine and SiriusXM and has been quoted by The New York Post.

In addition to her employment practice, Ms. Stryker’s litigation experience includes advertising, trademark and copyright, entertainment, First Amendment, and general commercial litigation matters.

Ms. Stryker is a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Civil Liberties Union and is a member of the NYC Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Committee. She performs a significant amount of Pro Bono work, including recent successful representations of two New York City tenant advocacy groups, helping them to defeat on First Amendment grounds a landlord’s effort to ban their community service efforts.

Ms. Stryker is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and New York University School of Law. Prior to joining Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, Ms. Stryker was a law clerk to the Honorable Michael H. Dolinger, United States Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of New York. She is admitted to practice in New York.

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