Steven E. Bers

Steven E. Bers

PARTNER
sbers@wtplaw.com
BALTIMORE
T: 410.347.8724
F: 410.223.3724



Mr. Bers, who chairs the firm's Labor & Employment section, is an experienced attorney, rated as “Preeminent” by Martindale Hubbell, whose practice since 1978 has been directed to management employment law; he also leads the firm's maritime law practice.

Recognitions

  • Named "Benchmark Labor & Employment Star" by Benchmark Litigation: Labor & Employment Guide, 2019
  • AV Pre-eminent Peer Review Rated: Martindale-Hubbell
  • House of Ruth Maryland:  Outstanding Service Award
 

Memberships & Activities

  • Former President: Maryland State Federal Bar Association
  • Member: Board of Directors and Executive Board, House of Ruth Maryland, Inc.
  • Former President: Jewish Big Brother Big Sister League
  • Graduate of Greater Baltimore Committee 's Leadership Program
  • Member: Mayor’s Select Committee for City Convention Structure Oversight
  • Member: MSBA and ABA Employment Sections
  • Life Member: Maryland Head Injury Foundation

Labor & Employment

Employment Law, including Employment Advice, and Litigation in all Courts

  • Has represented scores of large, medium, and small employers in matters of employment law since 1978, comprehensively involved in strategic defense strategies under multiple employment statutes, the common law of employment, and private employment contracts
  • Preventative and advisory counsel regarding employment practices, policies and adversarial terminations
  • Managerial and supervisory training
  • Experience in wide range of industries, including
  • Banking, Credit Union, Financial Management
  • Excursion, Tour, Cruise Vessel Industry
  • Cyber Development; Software & Hardware R&D; Web-Based Services
  • Healthcare; Medical Service Delivery; R&D Product Development
  • Heavy Industry Manufacturing; Food Manufacturing
  • Trade/Professional Association; Not-For-Profit
  • Construction, Construction Support Services
  • Hospitality; Food Service; Maritime
  • Residential & Life Care Communities; Nursing Facilities


Labor and Employment Litigation and Administrative Hearings, Employment Torts

  • Employment litigation before federal and state courts
  • Employment defense before federal, state and local anti-discrimination agencies
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defense
  • State and county anti-discrimination claim defense
  • Occupational safety violation claim defense
  • United States Coast Guard

Employment Contract/Document/Policy Preparation / Advice and Counsel
 
  • Employment agreements
  • Employment offer documentation
  • Non-competition agreements
  • Executive compensation agreements: tax-advantaged employment programs
  • Commissioned employee agreements / compensation programs
  • Severance agreements
  • Employment policies and handbooks
  • Affordable Health Act (“ObamaCare”) programs and compliance


Employment Litigation - Defense

  • Employment termination – claims based in tort, contract or statute
  • Non-compete and non-solicitation litigation
  • Employment discrimination
  • Wrongful discharge
  • Overtime / minimum wage


Federal Employment Statutes

  • Affordable Health Act (“ObamaCare”)
  • National Labor Relations Act (NLRB)
  • Union-Free Strategies
  • Employer representation in NLRB election process
  • Employer representation in union negotiations
  • Unfair labor practice defense
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (Overtime/Minimum Wage)
  • Defense of unpaid overtime claims
  • Preventative advice and counsel re: wage system development
  • Family & Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”)
  • “Title VII” – Federal anti-discrimination law
  • Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”)
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”)
  • Discrimination in employment
  • Discrimination in public accommodations
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”)
  • Employment credit checks
  • Employment criminal background checks
  • State Employment Law
  • Wage payment law
  • Credit checks
  • Unemployment claims
  • Anti-discrimination claim defense
 

Maritime Law

Mr. Bers has represented numerous large, medium, and small maritime businesses in matters of maritime regulation, US Coast Guard regulatory compliance and vessel-related transactions. He has also served as General Counsel to the Passenger Vessel Association (National Association of Passenger Vessel Owners) since 1988.
 

Transactional Maritime Advice and Counsel

  • Vessel Purchase / Sale
  • Negotiation of vessel purchase / sale transaction documents
  • Preparation of purchase / sale documents
  • Owner’s representative vis-à-vis shipyard negotiations
  • Author “75 Pointers When Building A New Boat”
  • USCG Certification
  • Vessel Financing
  • Advice and counsel / review of financing documents
  • Title recordation
  • Title inspection / vessel inspection history
  • USCG documentation center assistance
  • US Coast Guard Regulatory Compliance
  • Inspection and manning issues
  • USCG “835” Form response
  • Vessel incident reporting
  • Vessel & facility security compliance
  • Vessel Docking / Wharfage Agreements
  • Bareboat Charter Agreements


Marine Casualties Response – Complete marine Accident management

  • Accident Emergency Response
  • US Coast Guard vessel owner representation
  • Response to civil / criminal investigations
  • NTSB Regulatory response Advice 
  • Accident investigation participation issues
  • NTSB limitations upon communications
  • Environmental Protection Agency Response Advice
  • Clean-up / federal privatization of clean-up
  • Civil / criminal investigations


Maritime Litigation

  • Federal admiralty jurisdiction claims
  • Vessel construction claims
  • Shipbuilding dispute claims
  • US Coast Guard litigation / administrative “tickets” and licensing claims
PRESENTATIONS & PUBLICATIONS

"Employer Perspective - Employee Free Choice Act." Baltimore Hospitality Industry. 2010

"The Obama Health Plan - Employer Impact" Passenger Vessel Ass'n 2010

"FMLA Essentials - The New Regulations" HR Institute Master Class 2010

"Offer Letters and Written Employment Agreements" 2008 Employment Law Update 2008

"Unemployment Insurance - Back to Basics" 2007 Employment Law Update

"Employment Record Retention in the Electronic Age" 2006 Employment law Update

Author: "PVA Argues Overtime Case in 1st Circuit Court of Appeals: Participation Termed 'Very Helpful', The Foghorn (January 2005)

Author: "PVA Files AMICUS Brief in Federal Wage/Hour Litigation," The Foghorn (November 2004)

Author: "Documentation and Other Effective Ways to Avoid Liability for Discrimination," Employment Law Strategist (August/September 2004)

Speaker: "After the Accident, 'Right' or 'Wrong' Doesn't Matter," Passenger Vessel Association Convention, New Orleans, LA (2004)

Speaker: "75 Pointers for Negotiating a New Vessel Purchase Agreement," Passenger Vessel Association Convention, New Orleans, LA (2004)

Speaker: "Common Errors in Employee Management for Passenger Vessel Owners," Passenger Vessel Association Original Colonies Region and Great Lakes Meeting, Buffalo, NY (2003)

Speaker: "Effective Ways to Avoid Employment Discrimination Exposure," Passenger Vessel Association Convention, Long Beach, CA (2003)

Speaker: "2002 Legal Developments for PVA Members," Passenger Vessel Association Convention, Long Beach, CA (2003)

Speaker: "Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002: Provisions Relevant to CEO Employment," CEO Summitt - Washington, DC (2002)

Author: "Supreme Court OK's Maritime Wage/Hour Decision," The Foghorn (July 2002)

Author: "Exercise Caution Before Hiring Foreign Seasonal Employees," The Foghorn (February 2002)

Speaker: "Commission Agreements and Other Alternatives to Hourly Pay," WTP Breakfast Briefing, Baltimore, MD (2002)

Speaker: "Documenting Discipline and Discharge," Passenger Vessel Association Convention, Biloxi, Miss. (2002), Worldwide Employee Benefits Network (2000), WTP Employment Law Update, Baltimore, MD (1999)

Speaker: "Defensive Downsizing," WTP Breakfast Briefing, Baltimore, MD (2001)

Author: "Caution in Hiring Foreign Seasonal Employees," The Foghorn (March 2001)

Speaker: "Litigating Covenants Not to Compete," Lorman Educational Services, Baltimore, MD (2000)

Author: "Non-Union Employees Ruled to Have Right to Bring Co-Worker to Disciplinary Meetings," The Foghorn (November 2000)

Speaker: "The Family and Medical Leave Act," Maryland CPA Association (2000)

Author: "Marine Employment Safety: OSHA or Coast Guard Jurisdiction," The Foghorn (February 1999)

Speaker: "Sexual Harassment: 1999 Developments," Passenger Vessel Association Convention, Long Beach, CA (1999)

Author: "The ADA: The Tale of Three Boats," The Foghorn (September 1998)

Speaker: "Your Written Employment Documents: Salvation or Suicide?" WTP Employment Law Update, Baltimore, MD (1998)

Author: "Employee Terminations: A Navigational Guide," The Foghorn (July 1996)

Author: "Employee Terminations: Reducing Exposure to Suit," The Foghorn (September 1996)

Author: "Employee Terminations: 10 Situations Commonly Leading to Challenge," The Foghorn (October 1996)

Speaker: "15 Common Errors In Employee Management," Passenger Vessel Association Convention (1993)

Speaker: "Employment Law Issues Facing Maryland Employers," Institute of Management Accountants (1993)

Speaker: "The ADA and the Passenger Vessel Industry," Passenger Vessel Association Convention, New Orleans, LA (1992)

Speaker: "Employee Value Systems and Management Goals," Passenger Vessel Association Convention, New Orleans, LA (1992)

Speaker: "Wage and Hour Laws Affecting the Passenger Vessel Industry," Passenger Vessel Association Convention, New Orleans, LA (1992)

Speaker: "Wage and Hour Law Basics," Accounting Firm Seminar (1991)

Speaker: "Workplace Substance Abuse: State and Federal Laws," Maryland State Drug Free Workplace Initiative (1991)

Speaker: "A Guide to Drafting Personnel Policies and Handbooks," Passenger Vessel Association Convention, Boston, Mass. (1990)

Speaker: "An Introduction to Unemployment Law," Printing Industries of Maryland (1990)

ARTICLES

Ethical Misconduct in Coaching

The recent news of athletic department recruitment scandals - accepting bribes to gain admissions using dedicated roster spots for non-athletes - and for the practice to so easily escape detection is diagnostic of a greater issue within the results-oriented world of collegiate athletics.[1] An environment conducive to ethical misconduct may exist where rules are stretched, improprieties are overlooked and whistleblowing only occurs at great personal risk, both for athletic department employees, as well as students.  Inadequate oversight of unethical misconduct can result in severe consequences, such as the recent and tragic death of a University of Maryland athlete.  In that case, an entire University Board was forced to functionally admit a major athletic program oversight.   Schools and universities must take steps now to ensure that oversight of ethical misconduct, particularly in the athletic department, is being handled appropriately.

Accountability in the Virtual Workplace

It is an understandable tendency to want one-size-fits-all policies and employment handbook provisions in the workplace, but the virtual workplace modality creates a need to re-examine that tendency.  After all, the conditions at play in the virtual workplace involve issues of control and accountability not present when all employees are easily observed and reachable by merely walking the halls.

Maryland General Assembly Overrides Governor's Veto: Paid Sick Leave Law To Take Effect in February

Following nearly a year of speculation, the Maryland General Assembly has voted to override Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of the paid sick leave bill passed by the General Assembly near the close of last year’s legislative session.  The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (HB 1/SB230) will now take effect in thirty days absent further action by the General Assembly to provide additional time to prepare for its implementation, and will have significant implications for Maryland employers. 


Let's Discuss Employee Probationary Periods

When advising associations on employment policies, I’m often asked, “How long should the probationary period be?” My answer:“It really doesn’t matter,” followed by, “. . . so long as it is actually utilized.” Whether a probationary period is 30 days or 6 months, whatever period is adequate to demonstrate skill acquisition and work habits, the most important issue is whether the employer actually uses the time to review the work and make a reasoned go or no-go forward employment decision. Another comment I hear when defending termination cases is, “That employee should have been terminated long ago.” Typically, the deficiencies leading to termination were observed when the individual was a new employee. Often employers create probationary periods, yet fail to reap the intended benefit.

New Department of Labor Overtime Regulations

Effective December 1, 2016, the US Department of Labor regulations defining overtime-exemption eligibility requirements will change, with the impact upon employers being that fewer employees may be eligible for payment on a level salary basis for all hours worked – that is, employers may lose their overtime exemption.  The new requirements will have a direct impact upon any current salaried employee being paid a salary of less than $913 per week.


NLRB Memoranda Encourage Cooperation Between OSHA, WHD and NLRB In Advising Employees of Possible Claims

Recent memoranda issued by the General Counsel of the NLRB’s Operations Management Division make it clear that OSHA, Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, and the NLRB Regional Offices are going to be taking a more coordinated, less compartmentalized approach to addressing workplace complaints.  The memoranda also encourage personnel from those agencies to advise claimants about possible claims under other labor laws.


Economic Stimulus Act - Impact on COBRA Health Continuation Coverage

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, referred to in the press as the "Economic Stimulus Act."  One provision in this Act that has received relatively little publicity is a subsidy for former employees and their dependents who elected, or were offered the opportunity to elect, to continue health insurance coverage following termination of employment.

NEWS

Three Whiteford Lawyers Recognized as Benchmark Labor & Employment Stars

Benchmark Litigation has announced that three lawyers from Whiteford, Taylor & Preston have been named to the First Benchmark Litigation Labor & Employment Annual Guide as Benchmark Labor & Employment Stars: Steven Bers, Jennifer Jackman and Tiffany Releford.  The firm is “simply top-notch,” states Benchmark Litigation, and clients flock to the firm for its excellence in litigation skills and experience.”

Steve Bers Named "Power Player" Finalist by Baltimore SmartCEO Magazine

Whiteford is proud to announce that Steven Bers, chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment practice, has been selected as an award finalist in Baltimore SmartCEO Magazine's 2014 Power Players Program.

The Power Players Awards program honors the leadership, innovation, and impact of the region's most enterprising accountants, attorneys and bankers. The individuals recognized in this program represent the best and brightest in the region -- the impact players that help area businesses grow and thrive.


Steve Bers Appointed President of the Jewish Big Brother/big Sister League

The Agencies are significant agencies of the Associated Jewish Charities. Steve is also now on the Board of Directors of the Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, an Agency with an annual budget of $30 - $40 million. The AJCF is the fourth largest such agency in the country.