Seasoned professional in Human Resources, offering a 14+ year HR career distinguished by commended performance and proven results.
Extensive background in HR generalist affairs, with strong expertise in identifying and resolving Employee Relations concerns, from unfair treatment to more egregious complaints of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation, requiring thorough investigations, as well strong mediation and conflict resolution skills in order to reach a timely and effective resolution between the involved parties.
While serving as Regional Sr. Employee Relations Specialist and/or E.E.O. Specialist/Mediator in years prior, was heavily involved partner with Corporation’s inter-departmental professionals with regard to Hiring, Training, Retention, Staff Development, Separations, Benefits, Workers’ Compensation, Legal and Loss Prevention Departments.
Demonstrated success in negotiating win-win compromises, assisted in developing teambuilding programs, and writing personnel manuals, corporate policies, job descriptions, teaching guidelines for conducting a thorough and fair investigations and appropriate disciplinary/corrective actions to assist regional or field management teams.
Sr. Employee Relations Specialist
January 2007 to November 2010
• Partnered with regional restaurant and retail managers to timely and effectively respond to and investigate all internal employee grievances for assigned region of approximately 65 restaurant & retail stores' employees via the Company's Open Door Procedures.
• Internal Complaints received via the Company's Employee Hotline or through the chain of command, included a broad range of allegation types, from unfair treatment up to allegations of Harassment/Discrimination/Retaliation.
• On a daily basis, provided guidance (both oral and written) to unit managers on how to complete a timely and thorough investigation into alleged employee complaints. After reviewing all the evidence and discussing recommended appropriate action believed required in order to effectively resolve the complaint and ensure the matter would not recur, the complaint/case was archived and appropriate closure letter sent to the Complainant/Victim. When necessary, traveled and did onsite investigations and/or Open Door Forums on matters that were more egregious or repetitive in nature, pursuant to Company Policy and all applicable federal, state, and local government agency regulations and laws.
• Served as subject matter expert for Home Office and Field Managers with regard to HR and the Company's established Best Practices in all areas of the employment process, to include hiring, performance improvement or development plans, training, employee discipline, separations, etcetera, to ensure a fair and positive workplace for all employees.
• Trained incoming Managers on Employee Relations matters and proper procedures for effectively conducting thorough and fair investigations in their stores or units. Also provided District or Regional manager training whenever requested or whenever complaints/incidents indicated a need for remedial training.
• Assisted Legal Department and/or outside counsel whenever formal Charges or Complaints from employees were made towards the Company via Federal, State or Local government agencies. Testified on matters that were litigated as needed.
• Routinely partnered with Workers Comp and Benefits Departments' Representatives to prevent or mitigate potential WC/FMLA/ADA issues.
• 2009 & 2010 Recipient of Loss Prevention Department's Appreciation Award for effectively assisting Loss Preventions' certified investigators when investigating alleged violations of the Company's Asset Protection Policy (to include shrinkage, theft, employee meal and discount policies) to our Drug Free Workplace Policy, Social Media concerns, etc.
Guest Resources Specialist
May 2006 to December 2006
• Worked at home as a Consultant for Cracker Barrel investigating Title II Complaints from Guest(s) who perceived they had been subjected to any type of discriminatory conduct when visiting any of Cracker Barrel's multi-unit/multi-state Old Country Stores pursuant to Consent Decree Order agreed upon with the E.E.O.C. Thorough investigation included speaking with all involved parties (Guests, employee or managers) in complaint and gathering and reviewing statements and any other evidence, to come to appropriate resolution. All findings were captured in a detailed Concluding Report that was subject to review in house and by the Dept. of Justice. Upon conclusion of investigations, determination was made as to whether or not there was a preponderance of the evidence found to suggest the alleged incident/complaint occurred as stated by Guest. If so, recommended appropriate disciplinary action for employees and/or managers involved and followed up with guests.
Employee Relations Specialist/Paralegal
September 2002 to April 2006
• Managed internal dispute resolution procedures, providing informal resolution of a wide variety of team member grievances and complaints. Also assisted in responding to and resolving Guest complaints.
• Provided guidance to General and Associate Managers, Regional Managers, and Vice President of Operations with regard to Human Resources and Employee Relations issues, including but not limited to policy and procedure guidance and interpretation, employee discipline, counseling, separations, etc.
• Recommended and created disciplinary counseling memorandums for all levels of field management. Also updated Job Descriptions for all store/unit positions
• Conducted internal investigations and legal research to be successful in preparing Company responses to the EEOC and other government agencies with regard to formal charges of discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation.
• Acted as in-house paralegal as well as legal liaison with outside counsel in litigation matters. Responded to subpoenas and garnishments. Ensured compliance with mandatory Federal and State Labor Law Posters and Company recommended Posters for 140+ Restaurants in twenty (20) states. Ensured that unemployment claims are vigorously defended by gathering information/witnesses for hearings with third party administrator.
Employee Relations Independent Contractor/Paralegal
January 2002 to July 2002
• Worked as Independent Contractor assisting Cracker Barrel's Employee Relations Manager and Specialists in responding to Title VII complaints, wrongful terminations, and FMLA issues for 500+ restaurant chain.
• Timely and successfully responded to formal employee complaints filed with the E.E.O.C. or local government agency on behalf of the Company with respect to allegations of Title VII, ADEA, ADA and EPA violations.
E.E.O. Specialist, Mediator and Paralegal
January 1998 to September 2001
• Acted as the Company's Representative to the E.E.O.C. and local government agencies. Investigated and prepared the Company's Statement of Position in defense of Charges or Complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Provided legal department with information generated and maintained by the EEO Department. Testified and represented the Company at trials as needed.
• Successfully Mediated Charges or Complaints for the Company to achieve a win-win resolution for both the employee and Company, while avoiding damage to the brand or costly litigation.
• Investigated and resolved Internal Complaints involving harassment/discrimination/retaliation issues made by employees through the internal complaint process. Recommended and/or drafted appropriate disciplinary action up to separation whenever necessary.
• Worked very closely with Company's outside Field HR Management team to investigate and resolve employee concerns.
• Trained Regional Managers on how to conduct thorough, fair and impartial investigations in order to consistently adhere to both Company policy and the law.
• Provided onsite remedial training for both hourly employees and managers to prevent reoccurrence of any inappropriate action.
• Co-supervised day-to-day functions of department's administrative assistant.
PARALEGAL CERTIFICATE in Law
BACHELOR OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
TN Supreme Court Rule 31 Gen/Civil Mediator Certified, August 1999
Member TN Association of Professional Mediators (TAPM)
Member Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
Member Middle Tennessee SHRM (MT-SHRM)
• Bridget Turner
• ,Manager, Guest Resources at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc.
• (Also, former co-worker at Shoney’s, Inc.)
V.P. & Gen. Counsel
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc.; Lebanon, TN
615-443-4444, ext. 4006
• Brandon Ruffin
• Regional HR Manager for McDonald’s
• (Former Co-worker at C.B.O.C.S.’s, Home Office HR Dept.)
Kevin Townsel, Esq.
Chief People Person, Dick's Last Resort Restaurant
(Former Director of E.R. and supervisor at Logan's Roadhouse, Inc.)
• Michael Kern
• Director of HR at Captain D’s Restaurants
• (Former Field HR Manager at Capt. D’s)
• Phil Purcell, Esq.
• (Former Director, Employee Relations at Captain D’s Restaurants, Inc.)
• Charlotte Matheny
District HR Manager for Home Depot, East TN