I am an attorney, mediator and neutral workplace investigator in Atlanta, Georgia with over 26-years of experience. I am also the managing parter of Schaefer & Associates, LLC. Schaefer & Associates is a boutique law firm focused exclusively on mediation and conducting privileged, impartial, and internal workplace investigations into alleged workplace misconduct.
In March of 2013, I was honored to be 1 of 7 attorneys invited as an expert to testify before the EEOC in Washington, D.C. In my testimony, I urged the EEOC to implement a pilot program incorporating a structured ADR process into the EEOC’s post-cause conciliation process and to modify its investigation process for improved quality. You can read my testimony on the EEOC’s website.
Prior to focusing my practice on workplace neutral services, I was in-house counsel for 14-years at the General Electric Company. At GE, my roles included General Counsel of GE’s Transportation business in Erie, PA and Senior Counsel at GE’s Energy business in Atlanta, GA and GE’s Healthcare business in Waukesha, WI. After leaving GE, I represented both employees and employers before I shifted my focus full-time to workplace neutral services.
Over the course of my two decade career, I have spearheaded hundreds of complex and sensitive investigations into allegations of misconduct, including sexual harassment, retaliation, discrimination, insider trading, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and violations of company policy. I have found that my personal and professional experience enables me to quickly establish trust and confidence in the integrity of the investigative process and has led to the successful resolution of many situations and assisted in avoiding costly litigation.
In conducting these impartial internal investigations, I use proven investigative techniques to gather detailed facts, analyze relevant data, and provide sound, reasoned findings of fact. Those findings of fact are an effective tool for employers and their counsel to use to make informed and sometimes hard employment decisions. My impartial findings of fact also provide the foundation for the “honest belief” defense, which in many jurisdictions protects employers from liability for discrimination and retaliation claims if the employer is able to demonstrate that they had a reasonable, honest belief that the employment action being challenged was justified.
I also enjoying helping parties resolve conflict through mediation or facilitated discussions. In addition to working as a mediator after a lawsuit has been filed, I also assist organizations, including in the higher education sector as well as public and private employers, to address conflict before it becomes a lawsuit. Common situations I’ve helped address include conflict between faculty and administration, co-workers, managers and their direct reports.
For a more detailed resume, you can check out my bio on Linkedin.
Here, I blog on the management of workplace conflict to quickly identify legal trends and solutions for good leadership and governance. Who are the great employers? Those who are committed to creating an environment where employees’ contributions are valued, encouraged, and rewarded. In this kind of climate, business distractions are minimized and the company’s bottom line reflects the success of the corporate culture. Business leaders and HR professionals can count on the pragmatic and timely information found on this blog to create and maintain desirable and successful workplaces.
When I’m not helping people manage workplace conflict, you can often find me in my home studio where I create mixed-media artwork that every once in awhile someone actually buys. Mostly, it’s just a creative outlet that I’ve found is very relaxing and much cheaper than therapy … if you know what I mean? I like to use what was historically referred to as “women’s work” in my artwork. Basically, what this means is that I salvage vintage and antique quilts, crocheted pieces, tatting and lace that others throw away and then incorporate it into a piece of art. So you can get a better visual of what I create, I thought I’d include a picture of one of my favorite pieces as it has a bit of an “employment law” flair. I created this piece using a very worn quilt as the “canvas.” A suffragist postcard inspired the image on this piece. Click here for some fun examples of the colorful and whimsical postcards the suffragists used to get out the vote.