Tiffany M. Releford

Tiffany M. Releford

PARTNER
treleford@wtplaw.com
WASHINGTON
T: 202.659.6764
F: 202.327.6187

ROCKVILLE
T: 202.659.6764
F: 202.327.6187



Ms. Releford, Partner at Whiteford, Taylor & Preston and Co-Chair of its Community Associations group, focuses her practice on labor and employment law and community associations in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

In her labor practice, Ms. Releford represents large and small businesses, nonprofit associations, employers, community associations and individuals in matters involving discrimination based on disability, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, and age. She has appeared before state courts, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, the D.C. Office of Human Rights, and the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission. Ms. Releford has a background in human resources and provides general counseling to employers regarding separation and hiring issues, and disability and discrimination issues, including providing training on equal employment opportunity laws. Additionally, she represents local county agencies and has experience defending grievances and matters before the Merit System Protection Board.

In addition, Ms. Releford routinely counsels community associations in covenant enforcement, revising and amending governing documents, transition from developer to owner control, warranty claims, and collection of delinquent assessments. Ms. Releford also defends community associations in fair housing complaints, breach of contract claims, environmental claims, personal injury and tort actions in state courts and before administrative bodies.

Recognitions

  • Named "Benchmark Labor & Employment Star" by Benchmark Litigation: Labor & Employment Guide, 2019
  • Listed in Washington, D.C., Super Lawyers as a "Rising Star," 2014 - present
 

Memberships & Activities

  • Public Representative: Montgomery County Human Rights Commission
  • Member: District of Columbia Bar Association
  • Member: Maryland State Bar Association
  • Member: Virginia State Bar Association
  • Member: Montgomery County Bar Association
  • Member: Washington Metropolitan Chapter of Community Associations Institute

Labor & Employment

EEO / Discrimination Claim Representation

  • Representation of large and small businesses, nonprofit associations, employers, community associations and individuals in matters involving discrimination based on disability, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, and age before state courts, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, the D.C. Office of Human Rights, and the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission
  • Representation of large and small businesses, nonprofit associations, employers, community associations and individuals in unemployment hearings and matters involving wrongful termination
  • Pro bono representation in Worker's Right Clinic of DC Employment Justice Center


Human Resource Management Advice

  • Advises large and small businesses, nonprofit associations, and community associations regarding employment policies, employee handbooks, separation and hiring issues, disability and discrimination issues, and the Family Medical Leave Act
  • Provides anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training for employees of large and small businesses, nonprofit associations, and community associations
  • Investigation of employee claims of discrimination including, gender, race, disability, age, hostile work environment, and retaliation
 

Community Associations

Representation of condominiums, housing cooperatives and planned communities throughout Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia, both in general business affairs and litigation, including the following:

Contract Negotiations

  • Reviews and revises contracts for various services for nonprofit associations and community associations


Counsel to Boards of Directors

  • Provides fiduciary counseling and training to Board of Directors


Delinquent Assessment Collection

  • Provides collection services for condominiums, homeowners associations and cooperatives throughout Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia, including litigation in state courts, settlements, post-judgment enforcement action, and foreclosures


Rules and Covenants Enforcement

  • Counsels community associations in covenant enforcement, including drafting due process resolutions, attending due process hearings, and litigating covenant violations


Interpretation / Amendment of Governing Documents

  • Assists various community associations in Maryland and the District of Columbia with revising and amending governing documents
  • Counsels community associations in interpretation of governing documents


Developer / Warranty Issues

  • Represents condominiums and homeowners association in transition from developer to owner control
  • Negotiated numerous statutory warranty claims in the District of Columbia


Community Associations Litigation

  • Defense of community associations in discrimination actions, fair housing complaints, breach of contract claims, breach of fiduciary duty claims, environmental claims (mold and smoke) personal injury and tort actions in state courts
  • Representation of cooperative associations and landlords in landlord-tenant court and defense of housing code violations
  • Extensive experience representing community associations before the Montgomery County Commission on Common Ownership Communities, the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights and the D.C. Office of Human Rights
 

Business Litigation and Other Litigation

  • Representation of multiple insurers in the areas of law including personal injury and professional liability
  • Defense of false arrest, defamation and other intentional torts
  • Civil contract and lead based paint litigation
PRESENTATIONS & PUBLICATIONS

Co-Presenter: Understanding the Impact of Medical Marijuana, LeadingAge Virginia Webinar, May 21, 2019

Co-Presenter: Lessons Learned from Hollywood, Frederick County Society for Human Resources (FCSHRM) Annual Conference, May 2018

Moderator: Montgomery County Employment Laws Updates & Information - Women in the Workplace, Montgomery County Office of Human Rights and the Montgomery County Human Rights Commission, May 2018

Author: "Books and Records: Dealing with Requests for Inspection and Copying," The CCOC Communicator, publication of the Montgomery County Commission on Common Interest Communities, Summer 2013

Co-Author: I'm not Liable, He's an Independent Contractor. Or, am I? Quorum Magazine, February 2007

ARTICLES

District of Columbia Universal Paid Leave Act

Under the Universal Paid Leave Act (“UPLA”), beginning in July 2020, employees in the District of Columbia will have the option of taking three types of paid leave: up to eight weeks of parental paid leave taken within a year of giving birth, placing a child in adoption or foster care, or changing the custody of a child; up to six weeks of family paid leave to care for or provide companionship to a seriously ill family member; and up to two weeks of medical paid leave after the employee is diagnosed with or had an occurrence of a serious health condition.

Is the Playing Field Level?

The issue of gender equality in sports is front and center.  While not a new issue, recent lawsuits are challenging the practice of paying female athletes substantially less for similar work than male athletes. 

In 2017, the history of gender inequity in sports was highlighted in the motion picture, Battle of the Sexes.  The film depicted the epic, nationally televised, 1973 tennis match between female tennis star Billie Jean King and her male counterpart Bobby Riggs, portrayed as a male chauvinist.  King was the first female tennis player to win over $100,000 in a year prior to this epic match.  The tennis match between these players sent an important message that women deserved the same amount of prize money and respect as males.  As set forth in this article, this message continues to resonate today in sports.

’Tis the Season! Celebrating the Holidays in a #MeToo Era

In light of the #MeToo movement, companies that have held holiday parties in the past are foregoing hosting holiday parties to avoid the potential for liability. However, concerns about #MeToo should not dissuade companies from celebrating staff, the holidays, and end-of-the-year accomplishments. Instead, companies should be proactive in planning holiday parties, as well as in educating employees about appropriate behavior, before hosting such parties to minimize risks. Below are suggested considerations for companies that do not want to forego throwing a holiday bash.


It’s My Right! Statutory Books and Records Inspections by Owners

An owner’s zealous search for information may involve a request to review the association’s books and records. The District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia have statutes detailing the books and records available for examination and copying by owners. Accordingly, the board of directors and managers should be informed of what books and records owners have a statutory right to inspect. This article will set forth the highlights of the relevant statutes in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.


The Intersection of Medical Marijuana and Disability Laws in Maryland

In 2014, Governor O’Malley signed into law Senate Bill 923, which laid the foundation for the legal distribution of “medical marijuana” in Maryland. The statutory framework permits distribution of marijuana by licensed dispensaries for certain medical purposes as prescribed by “certifying providers” to “qualifying patients.”  Legislation enacted in the previous session had established the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Marijuana Commission,1 whose purpose was to establish and oversee the “investigational” use of marijuana for medical purposes by academic medical centers. The 2014 law expanded the medical marijuana program beyond the investigational stage, and permitted the use of marijuana for the treatment of certain medical conditions.2  Consistent with that expansion, the 2014 law broadened the Commission’s duties to include the licensure of medical marijuana growers and dispensaries.


Strategies for Surviving the Covenant Amendment Process

An association’s governing documents (i.e. declaration, bylaws, etc.) are the legal documents that guide the board of directors on how the association is being operated and managed. As time goes by, it is not unusual to find these documents are outdated and need to be amended from time to time. Amending covenants in governing documents for an association can be a challenging and time-consuming task, however, but may be necessary for a building to thrive, as well as to address current changes in building operations, legislation, etc. Below are some helpful tips for planning and surviving the covenant amendment process.

Parental Leave Laws And Working Parents

It is no secret that working parents sometimes struggle to balance family obligations with work commitments. While federal law provides time off for working parents for the birth or adoption of a child, the time off is unpaid. U.S. laws have been slow to provide parents paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child; however, there is new hope. The first budget proposed by the current administration proposes paid parental leave for up to six weeks for mothers and fathers for the birth or adoption of a child. If adopted, this would be the first paid parental leave law in the United States. Even if the law is not passed, now is a good time to review your association’s policies to make your association attractive to working parents, as well as help improve productivity of current employees.

Montgomery County Employers Must Provide Paid Sick and Safe Leave Effective October 1, 2016

Effective October 1, 2016, all employers in Montgomery County, Maryland with one or more employees are required to provide employees with paid sick and safe leave.  All employees must earn one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours an employee works in Montgomery County, up to 56 hours a year.  Employers with 5 or more employees must provide paid sick and safe leave; whereas, employers with less than 5 employees must provide 32 hours of paid sick and safe leave, as well as 24 hours of unpaid sick and safe leave per year.


A "Smart" Version of the Form I-9 is on the Horizon

All employers are required to complete a Form I-9 for newly hired employees to verify the employee’s identity and eligibility to work in the United States.  Failure to complete the Form I-9 can result in severe penalties against the employer.  To help make this process more efficient, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed a new “smart” version of the Form I-9 in an attempt to reduce user error and make the form easier to complete.

Why You Should Review Your Employee Classifications

Proper classification of employees is critical to avoid potential liability for unpaid overtime. 

If that did not get your attention, then consider this: In addition to unpaid overtime, misclassification of employees can result in liquidated damages, equitable relief, and reimbursement of attorneys' fees. Classification is particularly important now, in light of the proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act.


New DOL Regulations: Proper Classification of Community Association Employees Matters

Proper classification of employees is critical to avoid potential liability for unpaid overtime.  If that did not get your attention, then consider this:  In addition to unpaid overtime, misclassification of employees can result in liquidated damages, equitable relief and reimbursement of attorney’s fees.  Classification is particularly important now, in light of the proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).


Montgomery County Finds Way to Handle Delinquent Landlords

In Montgomery County, Maryland, owners who want to rent their homes must obtain a residential rental license from the County.  It is a Class A violation of the County Code for an owner to rent without a rental license, which could result in a fine of up to $500 per day.  More often than not, owners are renting their homes and deriving an income from the rental while at the same time failing to pay homeowners, condominium or cooperative fees to the community association.  However, the County is attempting to stop this practice.


D.C. Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The D.C. Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2014 (“the Act”) became effective March 3, 2015.  Under the Act, D.C. employers are required to provide accommodations, when requested, to employees when they are needed due to pregnancy, childbirth, related medical conditions or breastfeeding.


New Required Notices for D.C. Employers

The D.C. Wage Theft Prevention Amendment Act of 2014 (WTPAA) became effective February 26, 2015.  Under the WTPAA, all D.C. employers must provide new hires with specific information about their employment.  Further, effective May 27, 2015, D.C. employers must provide all existing employees with updated information about their employment.  This new notice requirement applies to all D.C. employers regardless of size.  Both new hires and existing employees must be given notice of the terms and conditions of their employment in the format set forth in the Notice of Hire- Employment Status and Acknowledgement of Wage Rate(s) (Notice of Hire).  A copy of the Notice of Hire can be found at the D.C. Depart of Employment Services website, http://does.dc.gov


Proposed Legislation in Maryland Regarding the Definition of Supervisors

In Vance v. Ball State University, 133 S. Ct. 243 (2013), the Supreme Court narrowed the EEOC’s definition of a supervisor, which included individuals with broad day-to-day supervisory authority, to find that an employer can be held vicariously liable for the discriminatory acts of a supervisor, if the supervisor has the power to take tangible employment actions against the employee.  In other words, the definition of supervisor was limited to those individual with the ability to hire, fire, transfer, or affect the status of the employee.  The Maryland General Assembly has introduced House Bill 42, the “Fair Employment Preservation Act of 2015,” to codify existing state law and apply the broader definition of supervisor adopted by Maryland state and federal courts prior to the Vance ruling.


Is Your Sick Leave Policy in Compliance with District of Columbia Law?

In November 2008, the District of Columbia enacted the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008 (“ASSLA”) which requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees, as well as safe leave for absences related to domestic violence or sexual abuse.  Effective March 2014, ASSLA was amended by the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act of 2013 which broadens the employees covered under ASSLA, provides for additional recordkeeping, and includes stronger remedies for violations of the law.  


Is Your Community Association Sick Leave Policy in Compliance with District of Columbia Law?

In November 2008, the District of Columbia enacted the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008 (“ASSLA”) which requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees, as well as safe leave for absences related to domestic violence or sexual abuse.  Effective March 2014, ASSLA was amended by the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act of 2013 which broadens the employees covered under ASSLA, provides for additional recordkeeping, and includes stronger remedies for violations of the law. 


The Americans with Disabilities Act: A Brief Overview of What Associations Should Know

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) makes it unlawful to discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability in any term or condition of employment, as well as retaliate against an individual for asserting his/her rights under the ADA.  It is important to note the ADA does not prohibit an employer from hiring the most qualified candidate for a job; it only prohibits an employer from discriminating against a qualified applicant or candidate because of his/her disability.  Below is a brief summary of what else associations should know about the ADA. 


Lien Foreclosure in Maryland

With assessment collections continuing to be problem for many community associations in Maryland, manager and board members alike are exploring alternative methods for collecting delinquent assessments. Here is a summary of the general process and timetable for the lien foreclosure procedure in Maryland.


"Let it Snow!" Practical Advice for Handling Ice and Snow in Community Associations

In 2010, D.C., Maryland and Virginia were paralyzed by historic records of snowfall.  In addition to the general headaches of traffic jams, school closings, and lack of power and services, community associations had to deal with snow removal.  Snowstorms in community associations often result in busted budgets, slippery sidewalks and parking lots, and the possibility of a slip-and-fall lawsuit.  So how can a community association protect itself?


Minimizing Risk: The Importance of Conducting Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Training

Employers often underestimate the importance of providing training to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace until they find themselves defending a claim of harassment or discrimination. Conducting appropriate training, however, can mean the difference between having a defensible claim and being automatically liable for the unlawful conduct of a supervisor.


Attention Employers with DC Employees: Final Regulations for Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act Issued

In November 2008, the District of Columbia enacted the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008 ("ASSLA" or the "Act"). In doing so, the District became the second of only two jurisdictions in the country to mandate paid sick and "safety" leave. Unfortunately, the new law resulted in more questions than answers. The District recently issued final regulations in an attempt to clarify the ASSLA.


EVENTS

Maryland State Bar Association's Law Update - Whiteford Speaking

Tiffany Releford co-presents new state and federal legislation and case law, as well as recent developments, at the Maryland Civil Rights Commission.  She co-presents with Glendora Hughes, General Counsel for the Maryland Civil Right Commission, and plaintiffs’ attorney Tonya Bana from Tonya Bana, LLC.

ASAE's Association Law Symposium - WTP Speaking & Sponsoring

Jim Kahl will deliver opening remarks to attendees at ASAE's Association Law Symposium welcome breakfast. Jennifer Jackman and Tiffany Releford will co-present "Human Resources and Employment Law: Key Topics for Your Association." The presentation will focus on best practices to minimize liability for discrimination and harassment claims and review topics such as protected classes, essential policies addressing harassment and discrimination (for employees and members/directors), hiring do’s and don’ts, responding to complaints of harassment, and termination of employment.


ASAE DC Idea Swap - WTP Presenting

In this session, Tiffany M. Releford and Jennifer S. Jackman, Partners at Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, LLP, will offer practical advice and provide an overview on laws, discuss sexual harassment and your volunteers, the impact of claims on your association, and your duty to prevent these claims.


NEWS

Managing Liability in the #MeToo Era (A Webinar)

On 11/13, Tiffany Releford and Jennifer Jackman presented a webinar sponsored by Whiteford, Taylor & Preston and LeadingAge Maryland, that outlined best practices to minimize liability for discrimination and harassment claims, including sexual harassment, by reviewing essential policies addressing harassment and discrimination (for employees and members/directors) and responding to complaints of harassment.

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.”

Tiffany Releford Elected Partner at Whiteford Taylor & Preston

Washington, DC -- Whiteford, Taylor & Preston is delighted to announce that Tiffany M. Releford has been named a Partner of the firm, effective as of January 1, 2013. 

The firm’s managing partner, Martin T. Fletcher, commented, “It is a privilege to welcome Tiffany into a new and expanded role within the firm. She is an outstanding lawyer and a key part of our expanding labor & employment and community associations practices in the metropolitan Washington region.”


Whiteford, Taylor & Preston Welcomes Its 2004 Summer Associates

Craig D. Borne - University of Baltimore School of Law, Class of 2005

Aja C. Byrd - University of Maryland School of Law, Class of 2006

Page E. Conkling – The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, Class of 2005

Joseph L. Morales - University of Baltimore School of Law, Class of 2005

Tiffany R. Murray - Howard University School of Law, Class of 2005