Mr. Conine is a Senior Certified Professional in Human Resources (SHRM-SCP) and former senior human resources and labor relations executive with over forty years of experience evaluating, investigating and resolving human resources issues. He operates Excelor HR Services, Inc. (formerly Consilium Advisory Services), an employee/labor relations consulting practice and also serves clients through affiliations with other consulting firms.
Qualified to testify in both the California Superior Court and the Workers Compensation Appeals Board Mr. Conine has been retained by both plaintiffs and defendants as a human resources and risk management expert for trials in both Federal and State courts. His in depth experience in developing and executing human resources, labor relations, risk management and ethics policy has permitted Mr. Conine to opine on a variety of employment, labor, risk management and ethics issues.
Mr. Conine is co-author of "Lawful and Effective Use of a Human Resources Expert Witness" (California Labor & Employment Law Review - Vol. 25, No. 5). He currently authors a recurring column on human resources issues for Smith Travel Research. He has been quoted in "The Orange County Register", "Nation's Restaurant News", "Long Beach Press-Telegram", "Human Resources Executive" and on CNN.com.
Additional Background Information:
Mr. Conine has broad experience as a corporate officer, board secretary, risk manager, compliance officer, expert witness and PMK. While employed as a corporate executive Mr. Conine appeared and/or testified as an employer representative before Federal and State courts, NLRB, EEOC and FEP enforcement agencies. He supervised the development of affirmative action plans, negotiated and administered collective bargaining agreements with multiple labor organizations, and led varied employer-level investigations concerning harassment/discrimination, failure to hire, wrongful termination, retaliation, back pay and union grievances.
Mr. Conine has also supervised lawyers and risk/safety professionals in connection with employer defense of employment, workers compensation and general liability claims.
As a workforce integration and restructuring officer Mr. Conine served as project manager for the merger of two privately-held companies, supervising all related HR/risk management activities including organization restructuring, reductions-in-force severance/release agreements and the merging of benefit, compensation and risk management plans.
Mr. Conine has created and taught numerous training programs in leadership, labor relations and HR management among others. He has served as a leadership coach for several hospitality industry executives and has served as a labor/management trustee and chair of a union health/welfare and pension trust fund. Mr. Conine has also taught management teams more complex subjects including employee and labor relations, federal/state wage/hour compliance, labor contract interpretation and equal employment/affirmative action.
BackgroundQ: Please list your professional accreditations, degrees, licenses, and certificates granted:
A: Cornell University, Bachelor of Science degree (1973)
Senior Certified Professional in Human Resources (SHRM-SCP) certification by Human Resources Certification Institute (Certification valid through December, 2017)
Q: Please list your affiliations or memberships in any professional and/or industry organizations:
A: Member, Association of Workplace Investigators
Member, Forensis Group
Expert Member, Thomson Reuters Expert Witness Services (TREWS)
Member, Southern California Mediation Association (SCMA)
(Former) Commissioner & Finance Chair, Palm Springs International Airport Commission
Member, Society for Human Resource Management
(Former) Chairman, Santa Monica Hotel/Restaurant Welfare & Retirement Funds
Member, Cornell Hotel Society
Q: Please list any teaching or speaking experience you have had, including subject matter:
A: Mentor/performance coach to management and senior executives
Instructor/Facilitator, "Avoiding Sexual Harassment", California-required training pursuant to AB1825
Strategic HR Workshop presenter/facilitator
"Good Boss, Bad Boss" Workshop presenter/facilitator
Cornell Human Resources Roundtable panelist (Ithaca, NY and Las Vegas, NV)
Cornell University -- Panelist discussing food and employment (Ithaca, NY)
University of Central Florida: Guest Lecture on Employer-Level Investigations
National Human Resources Association: Guest Speaker on "HR in the Boardroom"
Speaker & Session Leader at numerous in-house training sessions on employee/labor relations topics
Feature columnist, "Hotel News Now", publication of Smith Travel Research
Guest Presenter, Los Angeles Association of Health Underwriters
Presenter of employee survey results and recommendations, La Samanna Resort, St. Maarten
Developer and presenter of Emotional Intelligence workshop, Grand del Mar Resort
Q: Have any of your accreditations ever been investigated, suspended or removed? (if yes, explain)
Q: On how many occasions have you been retained as an expert?
A: I have been retained on 20 matters since January 1, 2009
Q: For what area(s) of expertise have you been retained as an expert?
A: Adequacy of and standard of care practiced in HR investigations
Methods, practices and protocols for HR investigations
Failure to accommodate (religious discrimination)
Failure to accommodate: religion, physical disability, sex
Employer policies for investigating retaliation against whistle blowers
Failure to engage in the interactive process
Sexual harassment retaliation
Adequacy of union grievance investigations
Failure to pay wages (misclassification of FLSA exempt status)
Workers compensation insurance claims handling procedure
General liability claims handling procedure
Hostile working environment
Definition of "supervisor"
Adequacy of employer harassment prevention measures
Industry practices: sexual harassment training, prevention and reporting labor contract interpretation
Negligent hiring/negligent retention
Appropriateness of average weekly earnings for setting of industrial death benefit payments
Failure of unions to represent members
Union/employer actions that violate a collective bargaining agreement Contingencies affecting outcome of labor contract negotiations
Q: In what percentage of your cases were you retained by the plaintiff?
A: 45% as of February 2016
Q: In what percentage of your cases were you retained by the defendant?
A: 55% as of February 2016
Q: On how many occasions have you had your deposition taken?
A: On eight occasions in the role of expert; prior to my retirement, and in my role as principal employer representative my deposition was taken on numerous occasions
Q: When was the last time you had your deposition taken?
A: November 19, 2015
Q: On how many occasions have you been qualified by a court to give expert testimony?
A: Twice to-date (CA Superior Ct., CA Workers Compensation Appeals Board). Some matters were settled prior to trial or proceeded to trial without HR expert testimony (my clients prevailed in these cases).
Q: On how many occasions have you testified as an expert in court or before an arbitrator?
A: I have testified in court or before an agency-appointed judge on two occasions (see above).
Prior to my work as an expert I testified as a PMK in various HR-related litigation and arbitration; supervised a three-attorney legal department; testified before the National Labor Relations Board; appeared as principal employer representative at mandatory settlement conferences; participated as the employer representative in mediation in diverse employment-related California Superior Court matters; appeared before various Federal and State fair employment and wage/hour agencies.
Q: For how many years have you worked with the legal industry as an expert?
A: I began offering my services as an HR consultant and expert upon opening my consulting practice in 2008 and was engaged on my first case in 2009. I took a sabbatical from my consulting practice and was employed full-time with a client for 20 months in 2013-2014; I returned to my consulting practice in August 2014.
See above for my non-expert experience with legal matters.
Q: What services do you offer? (E.g.: consulting, testing, reports, site inspections etc.)
A: HR and risk management consulting on various human capital issues in the workplace
Organization structure for startups, emerging brands
Executive and managerial coaching
Writing, presenting and/or facilitating specialized HR workshops
Litigation consulting and/or expert retention covering primarily employee and labor relations matters on such issues
Q: What is your hourly rate to consult with an attorney?
A: Quoted upon request; depends upon volume and complexity of assignment
Q: What is your hourly rate to review documents?
A: Quoted upon request; depends upon volume and complexity of assignment
Q: What is your hourly rate to provide deposition testimony?
A: Quoted upon request; depends upon case complexity
Q: What is your hourly rate to provide testimony at trial?
A: Quoted upon request; depends upon case complexity and time commitment
Q: Please list any fees other than those stated above (E.g.: travel expenses, copy fees, etc.)
A: Reasonable travel and office expenses in support of the client's engagement. No local travel fees charged for Southern California matters.
ReferencesJames J. McDonald, Esquire
Fisher & Phillips LLP (Employment Matters)
George F. Schaefer, Esquire
Assistant City Attorney
City of San Diego, California (ADA, interactive process matters)